Winter is always an interesting time on the east coast of the United States. It is a time when many of us find ourselves uttering phrases like “it’s too cold to be alive” each time responsibilities draw us from out of our warm and cozy homes into the frigid, blustery outdoors. Fortunately, once we return home we have a myriad of ways to recuperate from the harsh temperatures. A frequently cited favorite is to turn the hot water up to its maximum setting and settle in for a nice, hot bath or shower in a warm bathroom and think of the warmer days ahead.
If you don’t think you can survive winter without that particular indulgence then progressing further in this article is not recommended. The focus of today’s piece is highlighting five of the most horrifying moments of classic and contemporary cinema, which illustrate why it’s a terrible idea to get into water of any type unless you have a death wish. From older science fiction influenced body horror and slashers to more recent creature features and ghost stories, we’ll cover why it still isn’t safe to go back in the water–and why it may not ever be.
Those who are familiar with the now classic bathtub scene from Wes Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) may be surprised that Freddy’s bladed glove doesn’t make an appearance on this list and neither does Jaws or any of the Friday the 13th films, which take place at Camp Crystal Lake. However, you will not be disappointed when you see the five films that prove you should never step foot in the water again–even the shower.
Shivers (1975) [Retitled: They Came From Within for US Distribution]
The bare bones explanation of this disturbing film premise is that a scientist creates a parasite which combines an aphrodisiac and a venereal disease in order to change the world. Unfortunately his plan takes an unexpected, turn because when humans are infected by said parasite or carrying it as a host, they become violent, mindless, sex-crazed fiends. It is because of this premise and the troubling scenes which accompanied it that led to Canadian Journalist Robert Fulford publically attacking the film and its writer/director David Cronenberg.
It’s difficult to say what the most alarming scene in this movie is because there are a variety of sequences which compete for that title. However, it is the scene where the character Betts (Barbara Steele) gets into the tub that things take an unsettling turn. If you know the scene, then you understand how a sequence featuring an autonomous, phallic worm creature is more unsettling than Freddy or Jason could ever hope to be.
As with most creature features, a viewer can take their pick of any number of terrifying scenes in The Host that involve water in some form or another. The basic premise is that against regulations, an American military representative is responsible for dumping over 200 bottles of formaldehyde down a drain which leads to the Han River. Fast forward to six years later, when a giant amphibious creature emerges from the river and goes on a massive killing spree before it retreats into the sewers. The moral of this particular story is that not only are you not safe in the water, you are also in danger on any nearby land. Oh, and unlike most monster movies, this particular entity is also the carrier of a deadly virus. That means that even if you managed to get away from the giant river monster with minor injuries you are still probably going to die. (Or, at the very least, be forcefully quarantined by the South Korean government and subjected to brain surgery against your will.)The Prowler (1981)
The Prowler is an 89 minute lesson in why pools and showers are not to be trusted any more than natural bodies of water, just in case you had any doubts. You can take your pick of things to avoid, as brutal deaths occur in and near showers as well as in and near pools. One of the most interesting deaths in this movie is the pictured killing of Lisa (Cindy Weintraub). Her expression is pure stalk and slash gold, and her death highlights, along with many others in the slasher genre, why late night solo swims are never a good idea.
Final Destination (2000)
The first film in the Final Destination franchise is possibly the least improbable of the series in terms of brutal deaths. If this movie is to be used as a reference you need to fear the entire bathroom, not just getting into water in the tub or running water in the bathroom sink. Although the referenced scene doesn’t technically feature a death that is directly associated with or due to water, it still made the list due to the proximity to fixtures which dispense water and the horrific nature of the kill. Death gets particularly resourceful when cheated, so in addition to avoiding water, this film also suggests that you avoid… Basically everything else. Easy enough, right?
The Toolbox Murders (1978)
Last but certainly not least, we have the 1978 slasher, The Toolbox Murders. The premise of this one is that a man wearing a ski mask breaks into an apartment building and begins killing women with power tools. Needless to say, this slasher movie is laden with plenty of blood and gore. The scene which may turn you off of baths all together (
as well as shower time recreation…) is the one where Victoria Perry is shot multiple times with a nail gun, while in the tub. (Her tantalizing and chilling performance is simply credited as “woman in apartment.”)