Top 5 Scariest Doctor Who Moments (Classic)

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As Halloween draws near, John Hussey counts down his top five scariest moments from the classic era of Doctor Who.

There have been many scary moments in Doctor Who, many due to the dangerous and life threatening situations the Doctor gets himself into. Then of course there is the added danger of the deadly creatures and villains he has faced throughout his eleven incarnations. So without any further delay, here are my top five scariest and darkest moments.

Note: Part One is dedicated to the classic era, part two will be dedicated the new series.

5. The First Dalek

To start off the countdown, I go back to the second ever story of the show’s history; ‘The Daleks’. In the first cliffhanger of the story, we are placed on the edge of our seats as Barbara slowly becomes trapped in a lift after the corridor she just came down locks itself off. The lift takes her into the depths of the alien city and the doors open. Suddenly a strange robotic and alien arm begins to come towards her. This is the first onscreen appearance of the Daleks. This scene is menacing and created a massive impact; one Terry Nation, the Daleks’ creator, wasn’t expecting. The sinister music and bloodcurdling scream from Barbara really does help to make the Daleks entrance one to remember, especially after the fade-out which reveals the title of the next episode: ‘The Survivors’.

4. Lytton’s Torture

This scene from ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ isn’t really scary, but it is extremely dark; almost beyond the boundaries of Doctor Who violence. It certainly made the Cybermen look powerful and totally ruthless. The Cyber-Controller attempted to make ex-Commander Lytton tell it information but Lytton refuses. In an attempt to make the Dalek duplicate talk, the Cyber-Controller orders the two Cybermen restraining Lytton to squeeze his hands. Lytton resists, but it isn’t long until blood pours from his hands as the metal giants crush every single bone in his hand and wrist. In the end he falls forward; screaming in agony. The Cyber-Controller deems him a fool and then has him taken away to be turned into a Cyberman. I think this scene really demonstrates the raw power of the Cybermen and just how they can be cruel in using humanities emotions and weaknesses against them.

3. The Brain of a Mad Time Lord/The Plant Grinder

I found it hard to choose a scary moment for position three. I wanted to pick a scene from the gothic era of Holmes and Hinchcliffe and got stuck in a dilemma between ‘The Brain of Morbius’ and ‘The Seeds of Doom’. In the end I choose both.

The scene I picked from ‘The Brain of Morbius’ showcased one of the rare moments a gunshot is shown and blood is seen. The episode itself pushes many boundaries within the horror and violence section, and that is many reasons why I like it and its era. It contained a mad surgeon, Mehendri Solon, along with his Gollum-like servant, Condo, who had a hook for a hand. Upon realising his hand was sewn onto the new body of insane renegade Time Lord Morbius, Condo attacks his master. A struggle starts and Morbius’ brain is knocked onto the floor along with all its juices and blood. Solon then shoots Condo in anger several times, with blood splattering from his chest. Indeed, this was during a very gothic age which liked to push the boundaries. On top of this, Morbius’ monstrous new body was quite scary looking as well. A sort of Who twist on Frankenstein.

The scene I’ve chosen from ‘The Seeds of Doom’ is the later scenes containing the composting crusher. The mere thought of someone being slowly crushed to death by the feet upwards is just…..sickening and gruesome. All the more reason why I choose this bit I guess. The possessed Harrison Chase places a member of UNIT into the machine. He is crushed to death, but is luckily unconscious. At least I hope he was during that part. In the end, the insane Chase is finally defeated via his own medicine and he is pulled into the composter crusher after he and the Doctor have a final encounter and struggle. Absolutely gruesome; that’s all I can say about these scenes.

2. The Madness of Sharaz Jek

Putting aside chest shots and humanoid plant food, I now move onto the runner up of this deadly countdown. ‘The Caves of Androzani’ is by far the best, most gruesome and darkest regeneration story in the history of the show. The Fifth Doctor is pushed to the limit and encounters some very insane enemies. With Sharaz Jek, he is clouded by vengeance, showcasing his complete and utter madness. He is a very sinister character but what makes him creepier is the fact you never see his face (until the end of the story, in which we see it’s terribly burned). All we see is just his black and white mask which entombs his face, revealing only his lips moving when he speaks. The scene which freaks me out is where he takes Peri back to his base and has an outburst about his destroyed life, with a defenceless and helpless Peri unable to stop him stroking her hair as he speaks about their future together. The way his sinister voice speaks and then suddenly shouts makes me jump out of my skin in terror. His words bleed out insanity but his character is truly complex and unbalanced. He is a wounded man who was betrayed in the harshest way possible and to top it off, has a soft spot for Peri Brown’ beauty. The finishing touch is the sinister music played almost throughout the scene. Here is the dialogue from that chilling scene:

Peri Brown: You didn’t have to let them take him. You could have stopped them.
Sharaz Jek: To think that I, Sharaz Jek, who once mixed with the highest of the land, am now dependent on the very dregs of society, the base, perverted scum who contaminate everything they touch. It is Morgus who brought me to this! Morgus destroyed my life! Do you think I’m mad?!
Peri Brown: No.
Sharaz Jek: I am mad. Do I frighten you?
Peri Brown: No.
Sharaz Jek: You’re so important to me. I’ve lived so long in these caves, alone, like an animal. Now, I can feast my eyes on your delicacy. I can forget the pain and blackness in my mind. It’s all in the past. We can think of the future.
Peri Brown: What future?

1. Gothic Daleks and Davros’ Insanity

Finally we come to the winner. My scariest moments lie within my favourite Dalek story: ‘Revelation of the Daleks’. The scene in which we first see Davros’ new human-hybrids is just chilling. If the heartbeat rhythm isn’t bad enough, then the electronic horror music along with its jumpy nature certainly tops it. This added by the opening of the creatures’ eye and its grotesque appearance certainly does add to the sinister nature of the scene and story. It becomes slightly more disturbing in a later scene where the Dalek mutant is trying to speak with his daughter and then begins to change into a full Dalek. His voice becomes electronic and cries out a sentence about purity and dominance while at all times trying to battle against it; ultimately demanding his daughter to kill him.

The winning part of this placing is down to Davros’ total insanity within the story. This is seen to its maximum during one certain scene. Within this scene, Davros wishes one of his servants, Tasambeker, to kill her boss Jobel and in return, offers her the chance to become a Dalek. The way he speaks in such a subtle voice is like a snake wrapping itself round your neck in slow motion. Then this is balanced out with a harsh, loud and violent voice. Ever since I was a kid, this scene sent chills down my spine and that is why I have put it at the top. It still has that affect on me. I still believe it to be a sinister story and completely and utterly dark to the core.

Feel free to list your own favourites in the comments.