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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old October 3 2013, 01:13 PM   #1
Strange Citizen
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The scary/creepy moments of TNG

Hi all,

Quite new around here. I've posted in a couple of Jeyl's "Episode Of The Week" threads, which I really like. This topic could have been more generalised, but I think it applies best to TNG - you'll see why in a moment. I hope this post isn't too long - I do go into a lot of detail, but that's because I'm hoping this will spark a detailed level of debate and interest.

In my opinion, the horror aspect of Star Trek in general is somewhat underrated. The elements of horror which appear in science fiction are probably underrated because they are both more fantastical and more subtle.

Now I'm going to make a very bold statement: In my opinion, Night Terrors has some of the most creepy and psychologically disturbing moments in not only all of television history, but perhaps film history, too. Why? Because the episode is overt enough that we know it's meant to be spooky, but too subtle for us to laugh at it. Case in point: the morgue scene.

The morgue scene is one of the most subtle freak-out moments ever, because it doesn't go for the obvious route of scaring the pants off the audience with cheap thrills; it's far more insidious than that. It's so simple: our doctor is left alone in a room full of dead bodies, which is quite normal for her considering her line of work. However, because she is hallucinating, the bodies appear to...all sit up simultaneously. She turns away, and they are lying down again. End of scene. That is all...nothing else happens. So why is it so scary?

It's highly fascinating to me that this one scene, in which not a drop of blood is spilled, no one is hurt and no one screams, is nevertheless more psychologically creepy, freaky and unnatural, IMHO, than any number of gory scenes in horror films.

That the corpses don't do anything other than make that ever so creepy rustling sound, and then sit up, could actually be the reason why it's so frightening: if they started moaning and lumbering about like zombies, even if they seemed to pose some threat to Doctor Crusher, we could still laugh at the scene and so it would lose its power. Because they do nothing other than sit up all at once in that horribly unnatural jerking movement, it's too subtle to be cheesy - we can't laugh at it, because it's genuinely freaky as opposed to silly. I find this very interesting...any thoughts? It might just be me, it might be linked to the fact that I first saw it when I was about five years old. I'm not sure. Either way, it's intriguing.

Moving on to other episodes, the general point I'm trying to make here is that the understated nature of the horror elements in TNG's particular brand of sci-fi is, perhaps, what makes gives them especially disturbing, get under-your-skin kind of creepiness, one which is too low-key to be sniggered at. Frame Of Mind is scary only because we see everything from Riker's point of view, and it's disjointed, weird and terrifying to him - and thus to the audience. Again, it's psychologically very powerful. Schisms is considered by some fans to be the scariest Star Trek episode ever, period, throughout all the episodes of every Star Trek series, and it's simply an alien abduction plot. Is Schisms more frightening than a gory horror film? It might not seem that way from the outset, but its level of spookiness is virtually unmatched...even though all the visual elements are, again, fairly subtle.

In the end, it has to come down to psychological horror, which lends itself really well to subtlety. Is psychological horror always going to be more frightening and disturbing to the human mind because it taps into our deepest fears, as opposed to simply aiming to shock? Some kind of demonic, gory, revolting film ought to be scarier, and certainly more depressing, but it doesn't seem to be, even when it's not something you can easily laugh at...maybe it's simply too extreme, and so it becomes corny. Does this mean that the visceral elements of horror are nothing without, or when compared to, the psychological ones? I can't think of any other reason why certain TNG episodes are still creepier to me than any number of films.

Hope that this all makes for some interesting food for thought and debate.
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Old October 3 2013, 02:13 PM   #2
CorporalCaptain
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

I think the first Borg episode, Q Who, managed to have a creepy tone, and, to a much lesser degree, so did part one of The Best of Both Worlds.

Unfortunately, that tone had evaporated somewhere before the climax of The Best of Both Worlds, Part II, and it never came back. I Borg was already pretty cheesy, but Descent was unintentionally comical.
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Old October 3 2013, 05:25 PM   #3
Firestone
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

That scene from Night Terrors is quite scary indeed. However, the most creepy moment for me was and is the holodeck scene from Schisms. Especially the sound of their instruments.
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Old October 3 2013, 05:44 PM   #4
IzzyAtWarp9
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

I think the scene in Phantasms just before Troi gets stabbed and she's walking along the corridor being freaked is pretty creepy, up to (and including) the stabbing. Also in Imaginary Friend when Isabella is saying 'Now I don't care you can die like the rest of them' is kinda freaky.
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Old October 3 2013, 05:44 PM   #5
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

Oh and Violations. That is very creepsome
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Old October 3 2013, 06:02 PM   #6
Holdfast
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

Sci-fi and Horror make for fairly easy bedfellows: the former is frequently about the exploration of humanity through the unknown; the latter is frequently about the impact of the unknown on humans.

TNG did the overlap well. Some disturbing scenes I like (some already being mentioned upthread):
- the holodeck scene in Schisms
- the Deanna dream sequences in Night
- the Barclayspider in Genesis
- the Borg, especially in First Contact
- the future Picard in Time Squared and the denouement
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Old October 3 2013, 06:33 PM   #7
R. Star
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

Space tinkerbell raping and impregnating Troi in the Child falls on my list. Not an intended "creepy" moment, but definitely one they should've taken two seconds to think about what they were doing.
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Old October 3 2013, 06:47 PM   #8
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

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Old October 3 2013, 07:20 PM   #9
JirinPanthosa
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

Frame of Mind manages to be pretty freaky, for instance the part where Riker is convinced he's actually a mental patient and takes the doctors' side against his rescue attempt, and then later when he keeps blowing up layers and layers of his dream.
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Old October 3 2013, 07:22 PM   #10
jimbotron
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

As a kid, it was Remmick in Conspiracy. "WE SEEK PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE!" Then the shriek of the mother alien after it bursts from his beheaded carcass. Still, I loved it.

As for psychological stuff, I guess Schisms. Finding out your arm was amputated and re-attached? Creeeeepy. The holodeck scene was very well done.
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Old October 3 2013, 07:26 PM   #11
billcosby
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

Agreed on Night Terrors. That is some creepy Trek!
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Old October 3 2013, 09:56 PM   #12
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

For me, the last shot of Armus in "Skin of Evil," echoing the end of "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." Sure, he's the antagonist, but it's not his fault he's evil. It's how he was made. I feel the terror of his eternal torment.

I know my reaction to that episode is unusual.
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Old October 3 2013, 11:53 PM   #13
Beta-Z
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

If that thing wouldn't have killed Tasha, i'd feel similar about that.
But like this ... nah, don't care! Rot in hell, Armus!!!
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Old October 4 2013, 12:14 AM   #14
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

The head explosions in "Conspiracy" resulting in bugs crawling out.
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Old October 4 2013, 01:11 AM   #15
Dixie Flatline
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Re: The scary/creepy moments of TNG

The episode of Enterprise when the crew are put in stasis, and Dr Phlox has to look after them as he seems to be one of the only crew members immune to some sort of space madness, was good 'n' creepy.

Love the thread, by the way.
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