Well, as I slowly endure the Sisaphean torment of waiting for The Waters of Mars, it turns out that Mad Larry has emerged from the Shadowlands and blogged three times - once to record the fact he watched a TV show he couldn't take the piss out of (which quickly turns into an anti-Who rant); twice to tell us of him being a drunken loser annoying a celebrity which Mad Larry doesn't care about at all, and just told absolutely everyone about it - even his ex-girlfriend over the phone - for social research purposes; and his "eight predictions that The Waters of Mars will be crap because I know everything and if you disagree with me you are scum". It really is that Ossovar assumption we all agree with him that really pisses me off, but most particularly the point raised about the claims that Waters could be the scariest Doctor Who story ever, a claim never before raised (at least for non-Moffat eps) since 1977.
Mad Larry's uninteresting bitchy comment is that nothing on this earth could possibly be scarier than episode four of The Massacre. This is probably the most ridiculous thing he's ever said and proves the "Mad" label through and through. The Massacre? Scary? Even if you were old enough to watch it, everyone at the time who bothered to comment dubbed the story boring, tedious and a turn-off. Now, with only its audio existing, I fail to see how anyone could think it was scary. It doesn't even have any kind of tragedy to it as the whole plot rests on the audience being COMPLETELY ignorant of the religious genocide about to take place, and then proceeds to show the cause of that genocide in the most historically inaccurate way possible. Imagine a story where Churchill rings up Hitler and tells him he has the go ahead to invade Poland. That's how fucked up the "history" is in this story.
The last episode of The Massacre is almost godlike in its padded stupidity, as what little plot was used up last week. An assassination has been foiled and Steven thinks the Doctor's dead. The Doctor bursts in, says he's alive, gives the Sparacassian excuse that his absence for the story will be dealt with in a later draft, then freaks out upon learning the date and runs back to the TARDIS, leaving Anne the companion to face certain death with "Oh, my child, you're exaggerating". We cut away to a scene where Catherine da Mercy or whatever name is saying that she's decided to start ethnic cleansing and no one can be arsed to argue with her. "At dawn tomorrow this city will weep tears of blood," says one bloke. The Doctor and Steven escape in the TARDIS before dawn breaks and... we cut to a montage of drawings of mob violence. For about ten seconds. The Doctor announces that everyone in the story (and, it should be pointed out that hardly anyone in the previous three episodes turned up in episode four) are dead and that includes Anne! So, a bunch of unhelpful assholes and pricks are dead, and Anne obviously escaped because Dodo Chaplet exists.
It's rare, but Silence in the Library still kicks the arse of this in the horror scare stakes.
True, the idea of such corruption and mass slaughter is rather horrific, but that's an intellectual threat. No one dies on screen throughout the story. And what was the previous story? The Dalek's Master Plan, the final episode of which has the universe threatened with time lapse photography as the deadly jungle planet turns into desert and Sara Kingdom (in popularity stakes, the only serious rival to Donna Noble - maybe it's the red hair?) withers into a skeleton in front of the Doctor who TOTALLY LOSES IT as the skeleton turns to dust. Hartnell screams in terror. And then the Daleks arrive and they start screaming too as they rot away. This would be hardcore, but it has Douglas "Graeme Harper Worships Him" Camfeild ratcheting things so far past eleven that he was regularly getting phone calls from Stanley Cubrick. For advice.
Now, I really find it hard to imagine that anyone at the time would possibly think some tedious sub Blackadder characters chatting about political machinations in Cod Shakespearan (ie, incoherent gibberish) would be better than that. And judging by the complaints of "what crap" the BBC got before they returned to spaceships and aliens, it goes to show the level of self-hypnotic bullshit fandom is capable of. Anything that could possibly be described as adult or avantage-garde gets worshipped yet The Gunfighters is trashed because its ratings were poor. In ratings terms it kicked the crap out of Season 7, but I don't see anyone damning those stories because the veiwing figures were crap.
So, for want of something better to do I present my list of the scariest Who stories ever!
Radiation sickness, living metal cities, monsters in swamps, atomic war, bombs, people who die rather than fight and no way out alive...
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
If you try and ignore the bits with Daleks in, it's as dark and horrific as you can get. The Slyther would deserve a story on its own, but it's a kind of relief compared to the scene where the brothers kill each other.
The Web Planet
Out and out freaky wierdness, with the Animus as the vampiric spider fungus Lovecraftian god and the Optera killing themselves by dunking their heads in acid... just disturbing on lots of levels.
Mission to the Unknown
They all die. It was all for nothing. And their zombie bodies are turning into cactuses. Nasty.
The Dalek Masterplan
I've waffled enough about this, but the stuff on Desperus with the giant flesh-eating bats is creepy enough to warrant mention.
Power of the Daleks
The horror movie dead-coming-to-life stuffs works well enough for Nation to rip the idea off for Blake's 7: Time Squad. The last scene, where the Daleks come back to life once the Doctor's gone, has inexplicably yet to be sequelized. By ANYONE.
A bunch of cliches done half well for once and Cybermen creating zombies on the moon almost works.
The Macra Terror
They're giant crabs that scuttle through the countryside at night. They breathe poison. They eat people. And everyone who sees them is sent to be brainwashed until they stop complaining. They whisper in your sleep. They rule your politicians. And they can snap your neck and cut your head off for annoying them. Even if you're useful to them. And you can only see their eyes, glowing in the dark...
Tomb of the Cybermen
With social politics downright offensive, the middle two episodes when the Cybermen emerge from the ice unstoppable, silent and so bloody TALL, gave me nightmares. Actually think beyond 'run away from Cybermen' and the story's stuffed.
The Web of Fear
Robot yetis. Fungus. Poison mist. Cobwebs. Jamie finds the plot device and smashes it in the second episode... but this time it doesn't work. The Covent Garden Massacre is so horrific the Brigadier almost gives up as his men are butchered and their bodies lost in spider webs. In print, audio, stage, it still freaks people out.
Fury from the Deep
It should be crap. No one dies. Jay and Silent Bob are the villains for the first five episodes because everyone's so stupid they don't notice it. Is anyone really scared of seaweed? How come foam is deadly one minute and not the next? What does that bloody monster want? Yet, achieving a Moffatesque twist, none of it matters when you hear the heartbeat and the screams as people are dragged under the foam...
The Wheel in Space
Thankfully stripped of padding, the Cybermen are uncontrollable killer machines, the Cybermats are lethal, and things get worse and worse. The first episode is basically a haunted house story, cept it's a spaceship and the ghost is the Neanderthal equivalent of a Quark. And the Cybermen can sneak up on people without any stupid stomping noise.
Spearhead from Space
...do I HAVE to explain this?
The world ends and it's STILL not enough. The Primords, the screaming from the Earth, the Doctor finally breaking ("They'd never have listened to me anyway"), the Brigade Leader totally losing it, the end of episodes four and six. Was it any wonder they considered making this the last story and trying to sell Robert Baldrick instead?
The Claws of Axos
It's piecemeal but intense, whenever the Axons show their roots, or turn people to dust, or age Jo to death or make the Brigadier order the Master to kill our heroes, with floating severed heads, shimmering colours, melting faces and the time loop business...
Carnival of Monsters
The creepiness of the first episode and the Drashigs, basically. Not much else.
The Green Death
The headfuck nightmare of the Doctor's trip to Metabelis Three turns into a more conventional but no less intense plague of giant grubs, insects, brainwashed zombies, suicides and the horrible "you're dead and you get to know about it for such a long time before you drop dead and glow green" scenario. If Spara stopped ripping this off, it's memory would be much nicer.
The Ark in Space
Genesis of the Daleks
Nasty through and through, when the Daleks decide to stop pissing about even the fact there's only three of them doesn't diminish their creepiness. When it reaches the point Davros is the most reassuring thing in the story, you know things are reaching critical mass.
Terror of the Zygons
Interestingly, the blobby monsters are the least scary part of the story except when seen in the distance through the trees or in the shadows of the barn. The bodysnatcher stuff, the roars in the fog, the teethmarks in concrete, the Doctor's screams (but we never see what causes them) and when the eye in the deer head moves...
Planet of Evil
Considering what a copout ending it has, it's amazingly freaky with the clicking whistling noise as antimatter does a drive by and shouts "Hey, poofer! Nice universe!"
Pyramids of Mars
Is there much left to say? The plot thread about the Poacher, that's enough, but it goes further.
The Seeds of Doom
It lives up to its hype. That's incredibly rare, you know.
The Masque of Mandragora
Lots of it, bu the Cult of Demnos losing face and then dancing around the ashes of their enemies... brrr...
The Deadly Assassin
The Master's the grim reaper and then he sends the Doctor to hell. Repeatedly.
Robots of Death
Slightly undermined by Kaldor City revealing it was a total waste of time and the Fendahl was going to eat them all anyway.
Talons of Weng-Chiang
I found the rat scary. I admit it. Not as scary as the Peking Humunculus, or the Sting of the Scorpion...
Horror of Fang Rock
Even more obviously.
The Invisible Enemy
The Doctor's evil, the zombies are telepathic, and the Doctor's head is full of cotton balls... and then we get to see the Doctor and Leela die horribly before Jupiter loses one of its moons. Not even K9 can save the day!
Image of the Fendahl
If you see the first three episodes and never the fourth, it works so well. Alas, it spawned Nyder, a far more horrifying prospect.
The Stones of Blood
They're freaking vampire rocks with less intelligence than a housebrick and controlled by a gay pride disco reject. They still scare the crap out of me.
The Armageddon Factor
Romana gets tortured with electric volts by living skeletons in caves full of freaky illusions, while Atrios goes Threads lite and settles for locking Princess Diana in a radioactive vault to watch her die. And K9 turns evil. Again. Before we find out it was the Black Guardian the whole time. Undervalued.
Horns of Nimon
OK, maybe it's just me on this but the Crinoth scenes with Nimons stalking ruins full of mummified corpses still haunt my mind to this day.
The Liesure Hive
The Foamasi in the shadows, the skins in the cupboard, the people aging to dust, the statue wearing the Doctor's scarf, the sheer creepiness of Pangol: "The war was 40 years ago. How old do you think I am?"
Marshmen mighty, marshmen strong, marshmen rock.
Mainly for the Watcher. He's still scary.
A man with no voice says "All things are possible!" and skips off laughing to murder his daughter. And that's just a single cutaway scene.
It could be a lot better, but Death in the Woods and the empty house are impressively creepy.
Probably one of the scariest stories ever. You can tell with the bit where the Cybermen storm the bridge and look they're going to blow the Doctor's head off... because they can, and he can't stop them.
The Mara's just scary, really. When you get down to it.
The only story where the monsters are scary because they're not trying to hurt you. Thank god at least ONE of them is trying to murder people and take over the universe. Turlough left in the airlock not long after his suicide attempt is pretty spectacular too.
Warriors of the Deep
Having missed the Myrka-heavy action of episode three, this doomladen slaughter works.
It's a naked Sapphire & Steel rip off, but a brilliant one. The crack in the church letting out smoke, the cavaliers chopping heads off, the stone monkey in the TARDIS, the carvings of the Malus, Will's story of watching the May Queen burning to death...
The earth is hungry. It waits to eat.
Resurrection of the Daleks
It fails on so many scores, but can still be scary - from Phin's melting face, the massacre, the policemen, the disappearing soldiers, the viruses, Stein's brainwashing, the Daleks bleeding and screaming... It just needs that elusive thing, "the plot".
The Two Doctors
Shockeye's Chainsaw Massacre chases through the Spanish countryside, the Doctor laughing as a man gets his neck broken, Oscar getting stabbed, the monster in the ducting that turns out to be crazy Jamie... It's just annoying Servalan's the least terrifying thing in it.
Revelation of the Daleks
Having finally seen the uncut version, it probably would have scared me more if I'd seen it the first time. Personally, the only thing that still freaks me is the DJ's dying scream.
The Nightmare Fair
Yeah. This counts.
The Doctor's gone properly evil, brain experiments, torture, drowning, stings, crushed skulls, and the delusion that it was only three episodes long, ending in a Blake-rip-off. Kiv-Peri is a shithouse piece of writing, but still drips with wrongness and evil.
Terror of the Vervoids
"They spare no one!" I tried to defend this story, and it deserves defending. Vervoids are nasty.
Time and the Rani
Giant blood-drinking four-eyed bats with a lust for electrocuting teenage girls! Killer insects! Giant brains! Bubble traps! No depth, hardly any logic, but thrill-a-second!
Disturbing, scary, horrific and questionable to let kids see it. And that's just the scene where Mel's tied to a chair about to be stabbed to death by an insane geriatric lesbian cannibal with a VERY big knife.
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
Clowns. Zombies. Kites that fly by themselves. Insane bus conductors. Hell's Angels. Werewolves. Stone gods. Thunderbolts. Adrian Mole dying horribly. And Ace locked in the dark caravan with the android clowns... that start to move when she looks away...
The furniture watches you, the staff live inside the walls, there are monsters in the basement and the owner of the house has a thing for killing you and putting you in display cases for a laugh. And then his boss turns up, reduces a guy to soup, turns people to stone, dissects a chamber maid and decides to nuke the world. People don't understand the story - who cares about understanding it?!
The Curse of Fenric
For a bigger Buffy homage than anything RTD's done, Commander Millington still manages to be scarier than underwater melting-welding vampire zombies. Judson's grin as Crane is eaten is even scarier though.
The Master. Howling.
The Unquiet Dead
The titular dead.
True, as RTD noted, it could easily be changed to be a story about the Toclafane, but it's enough of a rampaging-monster-of-death to spook me out.
The Parting of the Ways
The scariest thing of course is the Doctor's Plan A of "Kill Everything", a kind of terracidal "you can't fire me coz I quit!" tactic
The Christmas Invasion
The evil Santas, the skeletons, the possessed families trying to kill themselves...
The Impossible Planet
Scariest new series ep IMO. Maybe it's the violins?
I couldn't piss it in my sleep.
Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
Nihilistic Master Karioke of DEATHHHHHH!!!!
Planet of the Ood
Terrifying. Not sure if the Ood or the crazy black guy is scarier though.
It's ripped off The Haunting, but you know, steal for the best.
Donna Noble faces an apocalypse EVEN BLEAKER than Threads. That sheer sentence should be enough to terrify people to void their bowels instantly. A giant hair-chewing stag beetle dry-humping someone's back is positively relaxing in comparison. And then the FUCKING STARS GO OUT!!!!
Stars Fell on Stockbridge
The Doctor doesn't believe in ghosts. That's a BIG mistake.
The Stockbridge Horror
Death by fire. Death by possession. Death by stone. Here come the Spiderman!
What's scarier than see the Doctor try to commit suicide?
The Sixth Doctor finally meets a pair of villains that cut him down to size at the lighthouse on the edge of the world. That android has the Doctor's soul, you know...
The World Shapers
The logic's rubbish and it's full of fanwank, but the Voord in the acid rain... beyond creepy.
Echoes of the Mogar
The Doctor STILL doesn't believe in Ghosts.
Planet of the Dead
Far more terrifying than its TV namesake, the Doctor meets people he thought long dead. The cliffhanger where Adric tries to kill the Doctor while verbally taunting him... I'm shivering as I type, no joke.
Doctor Who Aliens Crossover. Nuff said.
A dialogue-filled one-parter when the Doctor gatecrashes an Eternal party. What the Doctor does to them, with a smile on his face and a pun on his lips... jeeeeeeeeeeeeez.
The Road to Hell
Feudal Japan! Poisoned sake! Let them eat rice cake! The Gaijin! The nanogene monsters with their sick sense of humor, and just when things get bad, they just get worse!
The Glorious Dead
Episode four when Izzy goes on her suicide mission. That's not just scary, that's dark.
The Way of All Flesh
Words cannot quite do it justice, but this is just... I'm still loathe to reread it. It's horrific. In a good way.
When Cybermen are written properly. Worthy of its attempt to be the finale to the Eighth Doctor.
The Cruel Sea
It may have ripped me off, but at least it rips off the cool and scary bits.
The Widow's Curse
Donna Noble versus the Sycorax Feminist League (aka the Planet of Katie Ryans).
and some audios
Circular Time: Winter
The Fifth Doctor goes over the rainbow to Life on Mars land. And the coffin won't stay quiet...
Whispers of Terror
Don't check your voicemail.
The Spectre of Lanyon Moor
More cliches. They still work.
The Nowhere Place
Doors not doors, bells that drive you insane, and Time's End. Just the name, dude!
The Wishing Beast
Did anyone expect a Sixie and Mel story to be scary? Well, it worked with Terror of the Vervoids.
Kinky and disturbing. When it's NOT being scary.
Why was Battlefield made instead of it? I'll tell you why, cause it single handedly disproves God!!
Acid-dripping fairies, diseased clones of the Sixth Doctor, alien wormholes, outright slaughter and Nimrod being probably the nastiest sadist in the history of Doctor Who
Embrace the Darkness
Up until episode three, when the eyeball-chewing goblins turn out to be fluffy happy piglety creatures of unwavering moral standards, it's terrifying. I honestly freaked out trying to listen to it in the dark. But I hadn't heard the rest of it then.
Nuff said. Literally.
Again, until you realize the entire thing was a complete waste of time, and when it threatened to have some kind of "point", it's definitely spooky, from the scratches and the goo, to the tale of Ian Chesterton.
Dalek War III
The Vaaga Jungles of terrorformed Skaro... you go in but no one can tell if you come out again...
Dalek Empire 3.5
The diary of a teenage girl mutating into a Dalek. Redefines "plain wrong".
Trying to think of a bit that isn't terrifying. Struggling. Christ, how scary is Davros saying night-night to the toddlers he's surgically turned into Dalek blobs, and then feeding one its own mother...
Pretty much all of it. Vampires, conspiracies, zombie plagues, David Tennant being evil.
Quite a few bits, mainly in Storm Mine. Like D84's dream of the gestalt.
Well... till it all turned out to be a dream, anyroads...
So. Do The Waters of Mars make the grade?