A mirror figures prominently in 'Oculus,' an unsettling new movie that mixes paranormal activity with psychological suspense. The mirror contains a dark force that has a powerful effect upon anyone who gets too close, introducing a new wrinkle to a classic trope, as reflected in our gallery of great horror-movie mirrors.
In Tod Browning's classic, Count Dracula (Bela Legosi) walks past a mirror and Professor Van Helsing notices that he has no reflection. The jig is up! Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is a vampire and is soon sharpening up a wooden stake to drive through the Count's heart.
Moving forward several decades, we find the lonely, dejected Carrie (Sissy Spacek) not liking what she sees when she looks into a mirror, prompting her to call upon her telekinetic powers to shatter it, something we probably all wish we could do from time to time.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
It's an old trick -- someone who's alone in a bathroom opens the door of the medicine cabinet and then is startled to see someone else after the door is closed -- but it's handled deftly by director John Landis, and the sight awaiting poor David Naughton is truly horrifying.
The Shining (1980)
Let's all admit it: None of us knew why little Danny kept repeating "redrum" until he wrote it in lipstick and his beleagured mother (Shelley Duvall) saw the word(s) reflected in her bedroom mirror. It's a great little freak out moment, just before Jack Nicholson starts chopping through the door with an axe.
Say his name five times while staring into a mirror and presto! Candyman will appear -- and then kill you. At least, that's the legend that graduate student Virginia Madsen keeps hearing, which fires up her curiosity and inevitably leads to tragedy.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Going directly to the source of the Candyman legend, young Katie and her babysitter play a seemingly innocent game, chanting "Bloody Mary" three times while facing a mirror. Unfortunately for them, they're a bit too successful in summoning up a spirit who doesn't play nice.
It's hard to shake the image of poor parapsychologist Marty tearing the flesh off his face after he notices a cut on his cheek in a bathroom mirror. In the context of the film, it's a terrifying escalation of the horrors already suffered by the Freeling family.
Poltergeist III (1988)
For safety's sake, young Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) leaves her immediate family and moves in with her uncle and aunt in a Chicago skyscraper, only to find that the building's many mirrors open her up to more creepy dangers.
Novelist Roger Cobb (William Katt) inherits his late aunt's big old house, discovering too late that it's filled with nightmares. Without giving too much away, a medicine cabinet mirror plays an important role in the story.
Mirror Mirror (1990)
High school is tough enough without being possessed by an evil spirit who lives in a mirror. Goth girl Megan is tormented by her schoolmates until the aforementioned possession, after which she comes to see the distinct advantage of having demonic forces at your beck and call.
Director Alexandre Aja ('Piranha 3D') and an impressive cast led by Kiefer Sutherland make the most of a story that relies upon the evil that lurks within reflective surfaces. Sutherland is a suspended cop who must provide for his family by working as a night watchman, where he encounters murderous mirrors that are quite demanding.