Sinister Scraping Sound

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mmm-mmm! Finger-sparking-good.


The next moment a hideous, grinding screech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck.

The Sinister Scraping Sound is the issue of the Unholy Matrimony between Nails on a Blackboard and Audible Sharpness, with Nightmare Fuel acting as the godfather. This is a very basic Horror trope, the sound of metal scraping on metal, rock, wood, or another hard surface. It might be heard continuously or rhythmically, slowly intensifying as the source approaches.

It might be a knife on a countertop, a machete against a pipe, a sword against the ground, or a Chainsaw against basically anything if you want to ramp up the fear. This usually plays hell with hidden characters who are trying to hide, as it increases their panic. If they can keep their mouth shut, they might survive... or get pulled/impaled through the wall. Of course, the noise might be something completely innocuous that leads to another, more dangerous scare.

As the picture shows, it might be accompanied with sparks. Characters arriving after the scraper has left will no doubt wonder at who left the scratches --or gouges—on the wall/floor. The foreboding Bloody Handprints and body parts everywhere will be easier to piece together (unlike the bodies).

Often an example of Hell Is That Noise.

Examples of Sinister Scraping Sound include:


Fan Works[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In With Strings Attached, at night, while Paul is lying in bed trying to figure out what to do about John, the reader hears *scrape*... *scrape*... *scrape*. Then *scrape* #twang#, and Paul finally hears the noise. It's his guitar... is it sliding down the wall? No, it's moving along the floor and then jumps into bed with Paul!


Film[edit | hide]

  • The hospital scene in The Crazies shows one of the titular crazies scraping a pitchfork along the floor as he prepares to stab people who were strapped down on gurneys. Later on, another crazy is seen scraping a carving knife across a wall in a deliberate attempt to scare Judy out of hiding.
  • Resident Evil. The arrival of the first zombie is preceded by the scraping noise made by the fire axe it's dragging along. Watch it here.
  • Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2 and the movie has this as his "signature" noise, created by dragging his Buster Sword-sized rusty butcher knife.
  • As pictured above, Freddy Krueger loves to scrape his finger blades along the nearest surface while stalking his latest victim.
  • The Waterphone is used to generate many scraping sounds in horror films and games, including the aforementioned Silent Hill.
  • When some psycho is chasing one of the model girls in The Ratman, he scrapes his knife to a wall while walking.
  • The Spanish-language slasher Pesadilla Fatal ("Fatal Nightmare") has a killer with a Freddy Krueger-style glove, who does this to torment a blind girl.
  • Mr. Sleep of the Strangers in Dark City scrapes his knife to the wall when he is closing in on the protagonist.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Two Minutes Hate opens with this noise (see page quote) as Emmanuel Goldstein's face appears.
  • The dragging of Marley's chains in A Christmas Carol.
  • In Dean Koontz's By The Light Of The Moon, Jillian follows Dylan into a house (he had gone off to prevent a woman's murderous grandson from carrying out his plans) and hears the sound of metallic scraping and pinging noises, mentally envisioning someone sliding knives against one another. It's just a bird scraping its beak against its cage.
  • Septimus Heap
    • The Boggart scratching at Aunt Zelda's door after having been shot by the Hunter in Magyk.
    • Ephaniah Grebe sratching at the door of the refuge hut in the middle of the night in Queste.
  • Used with GREAT effectiveness in Robert Mc Cammon's book Stinger, a splendid horror book. One of the characters hears this scraping sound and only sees four twisted, alien claws by peering underneath a house that's on bricks. Prudently, he runs away.
    • That's not Sweet Pea anymore....


Radio[edit | hide]

Bluebottle: Captain, Capatain - I'm frighted, I'm frighted - I can hear someone in the ammunition hut - it sounds like a man sharpening a dirty big razor.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Slayers from the Suffering.
  • Spider Splicers in BioShock (series) are known to do this when nearby, giving players an audible cue that bad news is coming their way.
    • Thuggish splicers can do this with their weapons (mostly metals clubs, like pipes, wrenches, etc) as well, although if they're charging like that they're pobably screaming at you anyway.
  • One of the lesser effects of low sanity in Eternal Darkness is hearing knocks and scrapes.
    • One of the terrifying effects of no sanity in Eternal Darkness is hearing someone sharpening a metal instrument while a woman pleads desperately, before she starts screaming in agony.
  • In the indie horror game The Path, although nothing is explicitly shown, a sound of knives scraping is heard in the background of Scarlet's ending, leading some people to speculate that Scarlet...may have met a rather violent end.
  • Silent Hill 2: "Clank clank thunk scrape, Pyramid Head has come to rape!"
  • In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, the guillotines in the Shadow Temple make a scraping sound as they rise and fall.
  • "Be careful! I sense Death!" A second later, you hear chains dragging across the floor...
  • In Clock Tower, the main antagonist (most of the time) Scissorman uses a giant pair of scissors which he scrapes together with each step.