Bathtub Scenes in Horror Movies

By Alan Knight

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It's almost time for the Oscars.  The 87th Academy Awards ceremony is slated for Thursday, February 22, 2015.  Nominees for “Best Picture” include American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Selma, Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Whiplahs, and The Theory of Everything.  Out of all the possible choices there is not a single horror movie.  So I started wondering, has a horror movie ever won an Oscar?  Surprisingly, yes!
For Visual Effects and Make Up:  

The Birds (1963)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Fly (1986)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)

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Furthermore, The Silence of the Lambs won “Best Picture” in 1991, which featured spellbinding performances by Jodi Foster and Anthony Hopkins.

The Exorcist picked up “Best Screenplay” and “Best Sound,” although it garnered nine total nominations. The movie holds the distinction of being the first horror movie ever nominated for “Best Picture.”

One thing that I have noticed about horror movies is that some of the same props seem to recur over and over again.  The chainsaw, the axe, the knife, the sword, the meat cleaver are regulars, but have you ever noticed how man scary movies include a death scene or at least a scary moment in a bathroom, shower or bathtub? 

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Let's start with the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Psycho.  I saw that movie at the theater ... alone!  I don't even remember how I got in to see it, being only 11 years old.  The current rating system was brand new back then.  I just remember when Janet Leigh had that shower curtain thrown back by Anthony Perkins and the stabbing began, I was ready to head for the exit.  It's ironic that the next time I was that scared was when Janet Leigh's daughter was running around the house in Halloween.

Other famous bathtub scenes in horror movies: 

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Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The scene is set with a young teenage girl taking a bubble bath in a Clawfoot tub.  She begins to sing a lullaby and slowly puts herself to sleep.  That's a big problem because Freddy Krugger comes alive in her dreams.  The razor sharp fingers begin to rise to the surface of the water as she sleeps, then suddenly her mother calls out to her, “Don't fall asleep in there, you could drown you know.”  Then in a flash she is jerked underwater and the screaming begins.

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What Lies Beneath (2000) Michelle Pfeiffer is convinced there is a ghost in the house, and as she takes a bath in a Clawfoot tub, strange things happen. Suddenly, she’s paralyzed, only able to move her toes, as the tub fills to overflowing.  She desperately tries to open the drain with her toes and everything goes wrong.  Suspense mounts as she finds a clever way to shut off the faucet, and the water slowly recedes below her mouth.  It was a very close call and a heart pounding moment.  A few years later, a parody was done of various scary movies and this particular scene was hilarious.

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Grave Encounters (2011) was a low budget movie that was a huge success at the box office.  It was about a team of paranormal experts who lock themselves into a haunted psychiatric ward in an abandoned hospital.  It was a real nail-biter.  The bathtub scene featured a girl in a hospital gown, standing over an old Clawfoot tub in an otherwise empty room.  As one of the technicians gets to the tub, he finds it full of blood.  He looks to the cameraman as a hand reaches out of the tub and pulls him under.  Creepy!

I can't possibly go into detail about all the bathtub scenes in horror movies, but if you want to research it yourself, let me give you a more complete listing:

The Shining

The Changeling

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The House of the Devil



The Tingler

Requiem for a Dream


Cabin Fever

Hostel II



The Lost Boys

Now, to the question:  Why are there so many Clawfoot bathtubs in horror movies?  There can only be one answer.  Think about it, when do you feel most vulnerable?

When you’re naked and all alone. 

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In a bathtub, we undress, get all relaxed, enjoying the warm water.  We lie back, placing our neck on a towel along the rolled rim and close our eyes.  What could possibly go wrong?  That's why the bathtub prop works time and time again.  Just when you least expect something bad to happen, bingo!  The horror movies simply plays on our own sense of vulnerability.

Now, in the real world, Clawfoot tubs have nothing to do with the words “horror,” “terror,” or “scary.”  These beautiful creations of cast iron and porcelain are harmless vessels that bring both beauty to a bathroom and enjoyment to the bather.  Popular models would include the traditional Rolled Top, the Slipper tub, the Double Slipper, the Dual-ended and the Pedestal.  These handsome bathtubs come in many shapes and sizes and provide not only enjoyment, but added value and prestige to your bathroom.

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The only thing scary for some is the price. Make sure you compare prices from different suppliers.  There are several companies that import new cast iron/porcelain tubs and sell them to you in a wide range of prices. You don't have to over-pay to get one of these beautiful models.  Usually, the better companies will run specials and include more choices, such as claw feet made of polished chrome, brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze.  There might even be a way to get free shipping.  

And don't forget the hand-held faucet choices such as the “English Telephone,” or the free-standing models.  These can be purchased along with the drain system and the water supply lines.  These fixtures also come in the same finishes as the Clawfoot legs to make a perfect-looking match. 

The only other disturbing thing to beware of is buying one of these tubs in any material other than porcelain. The acrylic models (a.k.a., plastic) simply don't hold up over time.  They have a tendency to lose their shape and eventually discolor.  They can really become a “monster” and you'll not be happy with your buying decision.  Make sure you get a quality cast iron/porcelain tub with a long-lasting warranty.  Unless you drop and anvil in the tub, most cast iron/porcelain tubs will last for a hundred years.

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Also, don't be scared away from making a buying decision.  If you have been looking for years for a way to truly beautify your bathroom, the Clawfoot tub might just be the answer.  If you’ve looked lately at one of the home magazines, you’ve most likely seen a Clawfoot tub.  These elegant-looking tubs make it easy to create a theme around your new tub.  When you have guests, they'll fall in love with it.  And if ever decide to resell you home, this tub might just be the deal maker.  I’ve had several customers tell me that their Clawfoot tub helped to sell their home.

In this article, I talked about why bathtub scenes are so common in the horror movie genre, mentioning several famous horror films that had a frightening scene take place in a Clawfoot tub.  I then went on to explain that in reality, cast iron/porcelain Clawfoot tubs are a real asset to anyone’s home, and serve to enhance its value … as well as the owner’s pleasure in bathing in them.
If you found this article interesting, please share and forward it to friends and family.  If you’d like to leave a comment or question, please do so in the Comments section below.

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Have a question?  Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed below and I’ll personally get back to you. Thanks for reading; it’s my pleasure to share this information with you.

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Alan Knight is the owner of Tub King, Inc., and  in Jacksonville, Florida. He has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. To contact Tub King directly, call (800)843-4231 or email

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