Top five film phobias

Films have a profound effect on people’s sense of fear. In some cases they contribute to an already existing fear but in others they can be attributed with being the direct cause of a full blown Phobia! And in DEVIL M.Night is playing on one of our most common fears, Claustrophobia! To celebrate its release we are taking a look at the 5 most phobia inducing films of all time.


Coulrophobia is a fear of Clowns which at first may seem slightly odd even ludicrous to most rationally minded people, but of those of us who were traumatised by Stephen Kings IT, the fear is totally plausible and justified.

The plot is based around a demonic creature that takes the form of a clown (with menacing sharp teeth may we add!) that goes around terrorising a small town. Its perhaps the juxtaposition of taking what is traditionally a character that is supposed to bring happiness and laughter by performing at kids birthdays and turning him in-to a horrifying demon that makes this film so scary.

This scene (right) from the movie totally creeps me out and if the film didn’t invoke a fear of clowns for you perhaps like me your never quite at ease when passing by a storm drain. Stomdrainaphobia?


The film’s pivotal scene, features 77 different camera angles, runs 3 minutes and includes 50 cuts. The scene begins quite innocently as we see an unsuspecting woman in the shower but then through the curtain the silhouette of a crazed knife wheeling murderer appears and…well you can guess what happens next.

A creative shot sequence backed by a haunting score that incorporates screeching violins, violas and cello’s combine to create what is revered as one of the scariest scenes in cinema history.  Master of suspense director Alfred Hitchcock originally wanted the sequence to play without music, but composer Bernard Herrmann begged him to try it with the cue he had composed. Afterward, Hitchcock agreed that it vastly intensified the scene, and he nearly doubled Herrmann’s salary.

Believe it or not a phobia of showers while not as spectacular as Sharks is still nonetheless a bona-fide phobia – Ablutophobia. PSYCHO was met with a mixed reaction upon its initial release. Some critics panned the film, while others declared it a masterpiece. There were no advanced screenings for press or critics were forbidden from doing the usual pre-release interviews for fear of giving away the plot. Additionally, audience members were not permitted to enter the theatre after the film began. These factors greatly increased the anticipation in the minds of audiences. During the shower scene, it is said that people fainted, vomited and ran screaming from the theatre. An onscreen attack had never before been captured in such a personal way. In the frenzy, it is easy to believe that at least some fans’ terror mushroomed into a full-blown phobia.


Der Dum……… Der Dum……Der Dum….Der Dum, the tune made famous by the film iconic horror film Jaws is now international language for “danger something bad is coming”. Jaws made ‘shark phobia’ (galeophobia) a household name and really put great whites on the map, before Spielberg they were just slumming it with all the other sharks.

The original script called for a more traditional “slasher” feel. The shark was supposed to feature regularly throughout the film, thrashing about, causing carnage and leaving a trail of mangled holiday makers in its wake. However, the film suffered endless production problems in the form of dysfunctional mechanical sharks, which although still impressive looking may have slightly detracted from the overall effectiveness of the fear factor. So with the sharks out of commission most of the time, Spielberg had to resort to some good old fashioned ‘Hitchockien’ techniques representing the shark with floating yellow barrels and spooky music. This change added drama and suspense, as the audience was almost never given the relief of tension that would be associated with the shark’s appearance.


Perhaps one of the most common phobias is a fear of spiders which is why the film is appropriately titled Arachnophobia – a fear of spiders. Although some of them are poisonous the reality is that we (humans) a huge size advantage over them. We could just stand on them but it’s not uncommon to people scream and run at the site of these little creatures, and movies like this don’t help!

A large spider from the jungles of South America is accidently transported in a crate with a dead body to America where it mates with a local spider. Soon after, the residents of a small California town disappear as the result of spider bites from the deadly spider offspring. It’s up to a couple of doctors with the help of an insect exterminator to annihilate these eight legged freaks before they take over the entire town.


The Birds is a suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It depicts Bodega Bay, California , which is suddenly and for unexplained reasons, the subject of a series of widespread and violent bird attacks over the course of a few days. A final intense scene involves the main characters of the film barricading themselves in to a house while the Birds mount a relentless attack and eventually begin breaking their way in

There is no solid, rational reason why the birds are attacking. They are not seeking revenge for nature’s mistreatment, or foreshadowing doomsday, and they don’t represent God’s punishment for humankind’s evil which just adds to the fear factor. The film’s non-existent musical score is replaced by an electronic soundtrack (including simulated bird cries and wing-flaps), with Hitchcock’s favourite composer Bernard Herrmann serving as a sound consultant.

It’s a testament to Hitchcock’s skill as a film maker that after all these years 2 of his films make this list. But at least we can all take comfort in the fact that it’s just a movie and a figment of Hitchcock’s imagination…or is it? Slight case of Ornithophobia yet?

Check out Devil, released nationwide this friday.

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