Why do images of humans walking on all fours, especially leaning back (and accelerating) scare people so much? horror directors have used this particular trope to great effect for years. Horror movie experts point out that images showing the human body in an unnatural way always seem to have a deep and disturbing impact on us.
Think of darkened eyes, heads turned too far to one side, or quick jerky movements. Of all the lurid images of the human body in horror movies, few (if any) are more unsettling than the dreaded spider walk, sometimes referred to as the “crab walk.” Here’s an overview of the use of the spider walk in the movies, starting with The Exorcist.
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the exorcist (1973)
The infamous scene of a possessed girl named Regan Spider going downstairs and then doing lewd things to guests was shot with a real contortionist, but never made it to the final cut of the film when it was first released. director william friedkin did not like the quality of the scene because you could see the wires that were suspending the contortionist.
the exorcist crab ride was included in later versions of the film when, with the help of cgi, the wires were removed from the shots. Some horror experts argue that the spider walk scene should never be included because it is the only instance where Regan leaves her room.
here is the famous scene of the spider walk from the exorcist:
in the mouth of madness (1994)
Into the Mouth of Madness is John Carpenter’s strange and disturbing film about a Stephen King-esque horror writer whose fictional monsters seem to come to life and begin to wreak havoc on the world. This movie is famous for a scene with a girl walking on all fours, and as a bonus, her head is crooked as well.
here is the scene from spiderwalk:
the ring (1998)
No overview of the haunting movement of spiders from horror movies would be complete without the famous TV ring scene. The image of Sadako walking out of the television and then crawling across the floor on all fours has been identified by many horror fans as one of the scariest horror movie images ever.
here is the famous creepy tv scene of the ring crawling:
the unborn (2009)
In The Unborn, a young woman is haunted by a dybbuk, an evil spirit that has taken over the body of her great-uncle, who died as a child in the holocaust. he was her grandmother’s twin, and poor grandmother gets the shock of her life in a nursing home when one of the other residents (an elderly paralyzed man) starts chasing her, crawling on all fours with his head down.
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This movie also features a dog with its head turned upside down, but the most iconic scene is definitely this scene on the stairs:
A legion of angels come to earth to bring about the apocalypse and wipe out the human race in this 2010 horror film. Strange things start happening to people…including a bunch of creepy crab walks.
An old woman undergoes a demonic transformation and begins to crawl across the ceiling, and a possessed ice cream man’s arms and legs lengthen as he begins to crawl after people.
both scenes are pretty creepy, but our favorite is definitely the scene with the old lady crawling on the roof. here is the clip:
the last exorcism (2010)
In The Last Exorcism, a documentary crew films a young woman suspected of being possessed to expose a preacher accused of faking exorcisms. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the girl really is possessed by demons, as she demonstrates when she creepily leaned back into a barn.
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here’s the haunted barn scene:
In this 2013 Guillermo del Toro-produced film, two little girls who find themselves alone in an abandoned house in the woods, are protected & resurrected by the malevolent spirit of a dead woman.
The girls, especially the youngest, are wild from lack of human contact. they also assume the four-legged crawling movements of the entity called mama. here’s the spookiest scene from the movie’s spider walk:
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