There’s nothing worse than trying to get your morning (or afternoon, or evening) coffee only to be interrupted by some supernatural force. As they say, don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee. But evil, monsters, and ghosts don’t have time to wait for you to caffeinate.
There seems to be a lack of pure coffee shop horror scenes, so this list includes diners and bakeries, too, to get a wide variety of strange and partially-caffeinated scenes. So grab a cup of joe or a pumpkin spice latte and check out 10 of horror’s freakiest cafes!
10. Old Boy
Ok, so there’s no coffee in this iconic Old Boy scene, just a live octopus. But nothing will wake you up more than eating something while it wriggles down your throat. The film, written and directed by Park Chan-wook, follows Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) after he escapes from a hotel room where he was imprisoned for 15 years. What follows is conspiracy, blood, and violence. Right after he escapes, he heads to a local sushi cafe for a meal. After all, you get hungry after 15 years of forced, mysterious imprisonment. But he doesn’t want the spicy tuna roll. He wants something alive. So, naturally, he eats a whole octopus. The scene is something to behold as Dae-su rips off the animal’s head and chews on its tentacles as they flail around on his face.
9. In the Mouth of Madness
Nothing will wake you up better than an axe-wielding maniac coming at you as you try to enjoy your morning cup of coffee. As Robinson (Bernie Casey, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and John Trent (Sam Neill, Event Horizon) sit discussing insurance claim business over coffee, a man holding an axe creeps across the street, his eyes trained on John. There’s something so creepy about two men going about their business while something sinister is unfolding just outside. As the man breaks the glass, he asks John, “Do you read Sutter Cane?” Well, as John comes to find out, there’s something weird about Sutter Cane, a horror writer who has gone missing. John Carpenter directed the film and based it off the works of legendary horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft.
8. Blood and Donuts
Vampires and donuts, my favorite combination. Blood and Donuts is a Canadian horror comedy that takes place in 24-hour donut shop. A vampire named Boya (Gordon Currie) arrives at the shop after being rudely awakened by a golf ball. He’s been asleep for 25 years and has a lot to catch up on. During his time at the donut shop, he falls in love with the girl at the counter (Helene Clarkson) and tries to help a cab driver. Oh, and he doesn’t feed on humans, only rats. Good guy vampire, right?
7. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Park Chan-wook is very good at creating violent vengeance films with poignant cafe scenes. In this scene at the end of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Lee Geum-ja (Lee Yeong-ae) and a group of parents gather in her bakery to celebrate and mourn what they’ve done. They tearfully sing happy birthday, share slices of cake, and chew in silence. I won’t spoil what they’ve done, but it’s heavy. However, it’s a strangely satisfying ending for a film about a woman wrongfully imprisoned for murder. The whole film is about Lee enacting her vengeance and boy, does she get it.
6. 30 Days of Night
There isn’t much to do in Barrow, Alaska, the setting of David Slade’s 30 Days of Night. Besides work at the pipeline and hang out at the local diner/coffee shop, all you can really do is shiver and hope for warmer weather. Everyone also knows everyone in Barrow, so when a stranger shows up on the eve of a month of darkness, they know something’s up. They call the local sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett), to take care of this odd stranger, played by Ben Foster (Hell or High Water). The Stranger is asking for liquor and raw meat, you know, the usual meal. His request is refused, so of course he makes a scene. Queue Eben to the rescue, leaving the locals to their cups of coffee and burnt meat.
Once this stranger is arrested, it’s all downhill from there. The Stranger reveals that They are coming. They end up being ancient vampires with shark-like teeth who have been preparing to assault this town where the sun don’t shine for a whole month. 30 Days of Night is one of my personal favorite horror movies, despite its bad reputation. Its vampires are vicious and dapper, tearing out throats while dressed to the nines. It’s a good flick to watch as the weather starts to get colder.
5. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Sitting in a diner, sipping coffee, and watching a kid eat french fries seems normal, right? This is the way Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell, Widows) spends some of his time in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer. However, this kid, Martin (Barry Keoghan, Dunkirk), is anything but normal. He sees Steven as a father figure, a replacement for the father he lost because of Steven. But when Steven doesn’t reciprocate these feelings, justice must be done. For Martin, justice means making Steven’s children ill to the point of death until Steven decides which one to murder. Many of their conversations happen in this diner, a seemingly neutral meeting place for such brutal deeds.
What’s the best way to explain your ability to see demons? Over pancakes and coffee, of course. Demon hunter John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) takes Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to a diner to explain how he knows so much about demons and how to fight them. As he pours syrup over his pancakes, he explains that as a kid he could see things that no one else could. This led to years of medication and electroshock therapy. Finally, after a suicide attempt, Constantine sees what hell really looks like and realizes that demons are real. Breakfast should temper Angela’s reaction to such a tale, right?
What’s in the box? Gwyneth Paltrow’s regret of moving to the nameless city at the center of David Fincher’s Se7en. In one of the film’s few scenes not centered on a gruesome crime, Tracy (Paltrow, Avengers) confides in her husband’s (Brad Pitt, Fury) partner, Somerset (Morgan Freeman, The Lego Movie). She can’t stand the rainy, violent city. This might not be the scariest or weirdest scene of this list, but it’s a melancholy one, underscored by the horrors encountered throughout the film.
2. Twin Peaks
Damn fine, as the dreamy Agent Dale Cooper would say as he sips a cup of black coffee. The RR Diner of Twin Peaks, Washington is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. It is the central meeting place for the cast of David Lynch’s bizarre and iconic series, Twin Peaks, and where you can get a slice of cherry pie that’ll kill ya. For those that haven’t watched the series, it is Lynch’s take on the soap opera, though it is something much more strange.
Twin Peaks begins with the death of high school student, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), in the eponymous town. Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) travels to the land of pine trees and waterfalls to solve the murder. What he finds is something much more paranormal, including an interdimensional room called the Black Lodge where strange creatures dance and speak backwards. The first two seasons aired in 1990 and the third season was recently released in 2017. I could write thousands of words about this TV show, but for now, I’ll leave you with the recommendation. If you’re looking for something weird, funny, and creepy to watch with a side of coffee and a slice of pie, Twin Peaks is for you.
1. The Final Destination
Perhaps the most phenomenal cafe/coffee shop scene of all time starts with a frozen coffee monstrosity. It is a giant chocochino with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, caramel, and sprinkles, to be exact. Nick, played by Bobby Campo (Legally Blonde), orders said monstrosity after warning a construction worker about a loose scaffolding (that’ll come into play later). As he sits with two of his friends, sipping his sweet concoction and talking about their premonitions, it all goes downhill in a way only Final Destination can deliver. The scaffolding falls apart, causing a truck to swerve and, you guessed it, crash through the coffee shop’s front window. The way the film shows its death scenes, via x-ray vision and bone-crunching sound effects, makes me both cringe and laugh out loud.
The Final Destination films are known for their absolutely bonkers death scenes and have made drivers everywhere fear a truck full of lumber. This scene is no exception in taking something as innocuous as a coffee shop and making it into an utter death trap.