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The Creepiest Movie Dances Of All Time

People have been dancing since the dawn of time. It's one of the oldest art forms known to man, one of the purest forms of human expression. So naturally, filmmakers have harnessed our desire to twist, twirl, and tango in order to convey a multitude of ideas and emotions. For example, movie dance numbers are often associated with romance ("Top Hat"), comedy ("Silver Linings Playbook"), sexuality ("Magic Mike"), or the pure joy of movement ("West Side Story"). But while dancing can often put a smile on your face, sometimes it can be downright horrific.

After all, watching a bad guy waltzing around his secret lair moments before murdering someone can be kind of upsetting. And when a sadist starts shimmying around the room, you know that means somebody is about to get tortured. While a good guy dance routine can make audiences smile, a bad guy breakdown is guaranteed to send chills through the movie theater. From psychopathic thugs with a love for movie musicals to disturbed supervillains with a fondness for hip-hop, these are the creepiest movie dances of all time.

A scary Singin' in the Rain

Even if you haven't seen "Singin' in the Rain," you've definitely heard the titular song, and you can probably picture Gene Kelly stomping down a flooded street, umbrella in hand. It's a truly iconic Hollywood image, a legendary scene about the joy of falling in love.

And then Malcolm McDowell and Stanley Kubrick came along and made it about rape.

Right after the Ludovico Technique scene, the most infamous moment in "A Clockwork Orange" comes when Alex DeLarge (McDowell) and his droogs torture an elderly writer (Patrick Magee) and his young wife (Adrienne Corri). Sure, their phallic masks are freaky, and their cackling is creepy, but what makes the scene truly upsetting is how Alex is crooning "Singin' in the Rain." When he shuffles his feet, he kicks the writer in the stomach. As he glides across the room, he beats the terrified woman with a cane and tapes her mouth shut. The musical number was actually improvised by McDowell, and as he explained to The Telegraph, he picked that classic song, "Because [it's] Hollywood's gift to the world of euphoria. And that's what the character is feeling at that time." Thanks for ruining one of the most cheerful musicals ever made, McDowell.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

A candy-colored clown

Almost everything David Lynch has done feels like a dream. "Blue Velvet" is certainly no exception. While it's a little more grounded in reality than, say, "Inland Empire," the movie has plenty of eerie moments that seem straight from Lynch's subconscious. There's a severed ear in a field, a legion of bugs lurking in the grass, and a monstrous Dennis Hopper huffing a mysterious gas. But when it comes to pure, surreal spookiness, it doesn't get any creepier than the "In Dreams" dance sequence.

The otherworldly floor show gets started when overly curious college student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is abducted by a savage gangster named Frank Booth (Hopper). Soon, Jeffrey, Frank, and their criminal companions wind up in the world's weirdest bordello, run by a suave dude named Ben (Dean Stockwell). At Frank's request, Ben performs Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," an eerie song about a candy-colored clown. Holding a utility light up to his powdered face, Ben oozes and sways back and forth while lip-syncing along with the song. It's a nightmare moment, hypnotic and horrific, and one that will definitely haunt your dreams.

The goblin ball

Directed by Jim Henson, "Labyrinth" is a beloved coming-of-age fantasy, but really, it's about a full-grown dude stalking an underage girl. Okay, we're being a little facetious, but Jennifer Connelly being 15 does make the film feel super freaky, as David Bowie was 23 years her senior. And things get extra weird during the masked ball sequence.

After eating an enchanted peach that puts her to sleep (aka a goblin roofie), teenager Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) winds up in a pervy party that has some serious "Eyes Wide Shut" vibes. Everyone is wearing creepy monster masks, and the whole thing feels very grown-up. So it's a little uncomfortable to see a 15-year-old lost in a room full of cackling adults, surrounding her and swaying everywhere, especially with that phallic imagery all over the place. It gets even weirder when Jareth the Goblin King (Bowie) makes his move, seducing the girl with his '80s hair, waltzing prowess, and his rather noticeable package. Fortunately, when Sarah realizes it's all a distraction to stop her from saving her brother, she snaps out of her spell and makes a grand exit, literally crashing the party.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Buffalo Bill boogaloo

The morbid world of Thomas Harris is populated with all sorts of serial killers, from the Minnesota Shrike and the Tooth Fairy to the charismatic cannibal himself, Hannibal Lecter. But none of these psychos have moves like Jame Gumb aka Buffalo Bill. Played by Ted Levine, Buffalo Bill is the terrible tailor from "The Silence of the Lambs," and he's a crazy combo of Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, and Prince. Not only does he kidnap and skin college girls so he can make his very own woman suit, but he also enjoys shimmying and shaking in front of his camcorder.

During his infamous dance scene, Buffalo Bill is down in his basement, putting on lipstick, playing with his piercing, and talking about how he could totally, um, seduce himself. He's totally oblivious to the screaming woman he's stashed away in his dungeon. Instead, he's more interested in voguing for the camera. Listening to "Goodbye Horses," Bill sashays around the room, wearing nothing more than a robe, stockings, and a woman's scalp. Instead of Ziggy Stardust sexy, Bill is just repulsive, and the dance number ends with an uncomfortable moment that will forever be tucked away in our minds.

Mr. Blonde's sadistic strut

Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) is many things. He's a thief, an ex-con, a murderer, a sadist, and to top it all off, the man fancies himself something of a performer. The nastiest thug in "Reservoir Dogs," Blonde takes great delight in slicing up a poor police officer (Kirk Baltz), cutting off the cop's ear with a straight razor before trying to light him on fire.

It's a horrific scene — even if the worst part does happen off-screen — but what makes it worse is how Blonde is strutting around the warehouse, grooving to Stealers Wheel and taking his sweet time before getting busy. He dances a few steps forward, then a couple of steps back, and then spins in a circle, putting on a show before lashing out like a snake. His twisted little dance draws out the tension as long as possible before the bloodshed begins. As far as movie dances go, this one has got to be the most painful to watch.

The moves like M3GAN

There have been plenty of films about dolls who come to life and end up being vicious murderers. Talky Tina, Chucky, and Annabelle have all been terrorizing children for years. But there is something about the AI companion in the 2022 horror film "M3GAN" that just hits different. A young girl named Cady (Violet McGraw) is orphaned and left in the care of her aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams). Aunt Gemma just happens to be a roboticist who has just developed a lifelike artificially intelligent doll designed to be a loyal companion to the child it is programmed for: Model 3 Generative Android, or M3GAN for short (Amie Donald, voice of Jenna Davis). But like most AI in movies, things take a turn for the worst when Megan starts to think for herself and take her job way too seriously, becoming extremely overprotective.

Before the movie was even released, the internet had its way with about four seconds of the trailer, turning it into a viral dance sensation. There is Megan with her big dead doe eyes, stalking a man down a hallway ready to take his head off with a blade from a paper cutter. Her murderous movements are emphasized with a choreographed routine of fluid arm movements and aerial cartwheels. According to Variety, this moment in the trailer contributed to making the Blumhouse title a box-office success.

The Black Swan takes over

Sometimes becoming a great artist means working for untold hours until you one day achieve perfection. And sometimes it means you're haunted by doppelgangers and start morphing into a bird. Well, that's what happens to Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) in "Black Swan." A naive ballerina struggling to keep the lead role in "Swan Lake" — a part that requires tapping into her sensual side to play the titular Black Swan — Nina falls deeper and deeper into madness over the course of the film. But when she finally gives in to the darkness, she delivers a performance for the ages.

From her newfound intensity to her possessed red eyes, Nina spins onto the stage completely transformed. She pirouettes again and again, and with each rotation, feathers sprout across her body. Soon, her graceful arms are huge, black wings, and the crowd is loving it up. The sweet girl is gone; now, she's all swan. And while this creepy dance eventually climaxes with disastrous results, Portman danced away from it all with an Oscar for Best Actress.

Ben Mendelsohn's scary shell game

Directed by Ryan Gosling, "Lost River" was absolutely eviscerated by critics, but despite the drubbing it took at Cannes, it's still pretty awesome. The visuals are haunting, the tone is hypnotic, and Ben Mendelsohn cuts a rug like nobody's business. However, Christina Hendricks' character is less than mesmerized by Mendelsohn's moves. In fact, she's quite horrified. Hendricks plays a single mom named Billy whose economic situation forces her to get a job at a kinky club where entertainers are "murdered" during incredibly gory Grand Guignol shows. But the truly freaky stuff happens in the basement, where female employees are locked into glass-like shells. Once inside, the women watch as male patrons do whatever they please.

Near the end of the film, Billy finds herself locked inside one of these shells as her boss, David (Mendelsohn), begins creeping and cavorting around the room to Johnny Jewel's pulsing score. David gyrates his hips like he's Tony Manero at the world's ickiest disco, and things get even worse when he reveals that he's got the key to Billy's shell. And yeah, he totally plans on opening it up and doing something horrible.

Oscar Isaac tears up the dance floor

Everything about "Ex Machina" is unsettling, from the isolated landscape to Alicia Vikander's chilling performance to the mysterious soundtrack by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury. It's an unbearably tense movie, and it never lets up, even when the sense of dread gives way to one of the greatest dance scenes in cinema history.

The sci-fi disco gets started after a computer programmer named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is chosen by billionaire inventor Nathan (Oscar Isaac) to help with the ultimate Turing test. Nathan has created an incredibly lifelike AI named Ava (Vikander), and he wants Caleb to find out just how human she is. However, things start getting creepy very quickly, and soon, Caleb suspects Nathan's relationship with Ava might be a tad unhealthy. But when Caleb goes to confront Nathan about his obsessive behavior, the tech genius ignores Caleb's questions and starts to boogie beside his mistress, Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno).

With the flip of the switch, Caleb turns his living room into a dance club, complete with flashing lights and a hit song from 1983, and Nathan and Kyoko get down, dancing in sync. In fact, their choreography is a little too perfect, and this out-of-nowhere number will give you the creeps even before you find out the secret to their musical success.

Pennywise's dance of death

Stephen King has created plenty of memorable bad guys over the years. There's Jack Torrance, Annie Wilkes, Kurt Barlow, and Randall Flagg. But when it comes to straight-up scares, they don't get any more monstrous than Pennywise. This child-eating clown is even more horrific when he sounds and smiles like Bill Skarsgård, the actor who played Pennywise in the 2017 adaptation of "It" and its sequel. Sure, Tim Curry was terrifying in the 1990 miniseries, but Skarsgård wasn't just spooky. The man had some serious high-stepping moves.

After spending most of the movie tormenting the Losers Club, Pennywise kidnaps Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) and drags her down to his underground lair. When she wakes up, she's desperate to escape the sewers, but that's when Pennywise shows Bev why folks call him "The Dancing Clown." The room fills with eerie circus music, and Pennywise — standing in front of a hellish background — launches into his demonic jig. He pumps his arms and kicks his legs, but as his body rocks back and forth, his head remains perfectly still. The clown's eyes are nothing but pure evil, and understandably, Bev totally panics. After all, if there's anything scarier than an interdimensional demon, it's an interdimensional demon that can dance.

Hedwig busts a move

Anya Taylor-Joy is absolutely fantastic in "Split," but while her powerful portrayal of Casey Cooke anchors the movie, it's James McAvoy who's constantly stealing the show. McAvoy plays Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with 23 different personalities, not to mention three teenage girls locked in his maze-like hideout. Kevin's body has been hijacked by three of his more malevolent personalities, including a 9-year-old boy named Hedwig. But Hedwig isn't pure evil; he's just a scared, confused kid who wants to show Casey his CD player ... the one next to his window. Sensing an opportunity to escape Kevin's dungeon, Casey takes Hedwig up on his offer but winds up witnessing one of the scariest moments in any M. Night Shyamalan movie.

While listening to "Frogbass" by Snails, Hedwig begins gyrating, twisting, and convulsing. He struts across the room, leaps into the air, and lurches toward the camera like a hungry zombie. On the one hand, watching McAvoy get down is pretty hilarious. He's dancing with such enthusiasm that it's hard not to smile. At the same time, Hedwig's dance is downright disturbing. We're watching a truly sick man here, a guy grooving to hip-hop music, throwing his heart and soul into the routine, all while he's got several girls locked away in his own private prison. The look on Taylor-Joy's face really sums it up: absolute horror mixed with bewilderment.

Ballet fight to the death

Horror master Jordan Peele had moviegoers desperate to find out how he was going to follow up his 2017 Oscar-winning horror film "Get Out." He did not disappoint. In 2019 he released "Us", a psychological horror film that deconstructs identity and the class system. There is so much symbolism and subtle storytelling that you would do well with at least two viewings of "Us."

The Wilson family, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o), Gabe (Winston Duke), Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and Jason (Evan Alex), go on vacation and end up being held captive by their doppelganger family. These "Tethered" have lived their lives underground, eating raw rabbit, and they want revenge. 

Having barely survived most of the night Adelaide continues to fight for her life — with herself! Her Tethered, Red, attacks her in an underground classroom with bloody handprints along the walls, they each use their surroundings to try and get the upper hand. Red's movements are precise and aggressive, while Adelaide's are more wild and desperate. Adelaide was a ballet dancer, so there are intercuts from the fight to a young Adelaide on a spot-lit stage and a young Red in the bloodied halls, both in ballerina tutus and point shoes. The dance is set to the 1990s rap song "I Got 5 On It" by Luniz, reimagined in the creepiest way possible by film composer Michael Abels.

New form of breakdancing

"Suspiria" is a 2018 supernatural horror film, inspired by the 1977 Dario Argento Italian film of the same name. An American woman, Susie (Dakota Johnson), enrolls in a prestigious dance company in Berlin. Unbeknownst to her, the company is run by a coven of witches. During a rehearsal, Olga (Elena Fokina) accuses the instructors of witchcraft and causing the disappearance of her friend, Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz). When Olga leaves in hysterics, Susie volunteers to take her place in the dance. Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) transfers some sort of light to Susie's hands and feet, and things get really excruciating for poor Olga.

As Olga attempts to escape the school, she is overcome with thick tears obstructing her vision. She blindly tries to make her way through the halls but gets trapped in an empty dance room. Meanwhile, Susie has begun her dance and is unknowingly controlling Olga's movements. As Susie grabs the air, something grabs Olga and flings her into a mirror. It goes on like this as each of Susie's arm gestures inflicts irreparable damage to Olga's body, breaking bones and forcing her body into an unnaturally twisted formation, and finally leaving her dead in a pool of her own blood and urine.

Baby wants to be loved by you

It's a tale as old as time. A group of young adults on a road trip looking for big fun, only to be kidnapped by a murderous family of deviants. Set on Oct. 30, 1977, Rob Zombie's 2003 directorial debut "House of 1000 Corpses" executes this to perfection. While Jerry (Chris Hardwick), Bill (Rainn Wilson), Mary (Jennifer Jostyn), and Denise (Erin Daniels) are driving cross-country, looking for material to write a guide to offbeat roadside attractions, they pick up hitchhiker, Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie). They blow a tire, so Baby offers to take them to her nearby home. Baby's eccentric family extends some hospitalities, offering to fix their car and feed them while they wait. As a special treat, the group settles in for Baby's special Halloween Eve performance.

Mother Firefly (Karen Black) operates the spotlight, Grandpa Hugo (Dennis Fimple) gives an exceptionally vulgar introduction and Baby takes her place on stage. Face covered in pancake makeup with harshly drawn eyebrows, wearing a red wig and silver dress, Baby proceeds to lip sync to "I Wanna Be Loved By You." It's a vaudeville burlesque show that leaves Jerry and Bill transfixed but Mary and Denise, annoyed. Baby gets a bit friendly with Bill, and Mary pushes her away. Baby drops her stage persona, yanking a knife out of her wig when Mother Firefly stops her. There is a whole night of torture coming, and they need to pace themselves.

Day-O dancing dinner

Not all creepy movie dance scenes have to end in death and destruction. One that most may be familiar with is the family dinner that turns into a quirky body possession dance break in the 1988 horror comedy "Beetlejuice." Directed by Tim Burton, "Beetlejuice" is the tale of Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis), a couple who have recently died in their dream home. They come to terms with being spirits that now haunt the estate but are quickly annoyed with the new big city family who moves in. Charles (Jeffrey Jones), Delia (Catherine O'Hara), and their super goth daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) remove all of the rustic charms Adam and Barbara loved about the house. The high-maintenance couple is an insufferable pair with an obsession with modern art.

With a plan to scare the new family out of their home, Adam and Barbara seize an opportunity during a dinner party. Right in the middle of pretentious thought, Harry Bellefonte's voice bursts from Delia's mouth singing "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)." At first, everyone else at the table thinks it's a cute party trick Delia has pulled out for the evening until they all become unwilling participants. Each person is taken over by the music as they move like marionettes being guided by a puppeteer pulling their strings. Confused but kind of digging it, a whole routine continues. For the grand finale, the jumbo shrimp turns into hands, fully palming their faces.

Dancing with myself

He's one of pop culture's most iconic supervillains. But how did the Joker become the Joker? Director Todd Phillips was driven to answer that question with his 2019 psychological character study, "Joker." Starring Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, "Joker" tells the story of a socially awkward failed comedian, Arthur Fleck, and his slow descent into madness. Arthur suffers from a medical condition that causes him to laugh when he doesn't actually find anything funny, making it a bit difficult for him to blend into society. This condition makes him a target for those looking for a place to focus their rage.

One night on his subway ride home, Arthur is attacked by a group of well-dressed Wall Street types. He ends up shooting all three dead in self-defense. Arthur runs off and finds refuge in a grimy public restroom that becomes the stage for his solo minuet. Accompanied by Icelandic composer-cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir's melancholy score. Arthur's movements resemble something of a ballet mixed with the martial art of tai chi. His dance is slow and entrancing as his extended arms resemble a hypnotic cobra. His emaciated body movements come off as beautifully morose, as they evoke empathy in the viewer. After reading the script, Guðnadóttir wrote the score and tried to channel Arthur. "I sat down with the cello to kind of just find my way into his voice and into his head," she told NPR.