In my last post , I described why I think the scene after Duncan's murder is one of the most frightening in Macbeth . I forgot to mention one of its most frightening features, that Macbeth can never return to being what he was before the murder. This made me think about a movie that scared the s—t out of me when I was a kid: the 1959 Walt Disney comedy The Shaggy Dog . I saw it in 1969 as part of a rerelease double feature with The Absent-Minded Professor . The film was advertised as "a new kind of horror movie . . . HORRIBLY FUNNY!" But to me there was very little that was funny about it. The main character's metamorphosis was scary, but what was truly terrifying was the sense that the transformation was permanent, that he could never go back to what he was. That was far scarier than the fighting trees in The Wizard of Oz , though those were plenty scary.
Jon Finch and Francesca Annis in Roman Polanski's 1971 Macbeth Two years ago, Andy McLean asked me to be part of a panel for Bell Shakespeare, the national Australian Shakespeare company. We were asked to vote for Shakespeare's greatest death scene and greatest lovers . Choosing the death scene was easy—I think it's hard to top Cleopatra's suicide. Choosing the lovers was tough. I went with Romeo and Juliet, though when I saw the winner, Shakespeare and the "lovely boy" of the sonnets , I wished that I had thought of it. This year, I've been asked to choose a candidate for the " scariest moment in Shakespeare ." I simplified my decision by eliminating moments that are not merely scary, but horrifying, like Lavinia being dragged away to be raped and mutilated in Titus Andronicus . Macbeth has its moment of pure horror—when the Macduff boy is murdered in front of his mother—but much of the rest of the play is "scary," in the s