Kirk finds McCoy in Spock’s quarters (Star Trek III)
Apart from the Borg turning the Enterprise-E into a “haunted house” of sorts in Star Trek: First Contact, the spookiest our favorite starship has ever felt is in this scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, earning it a spot on a Star Trek Halloween “playlist.”
Once Admiral Kirk orders the security guards outside Spock’s cabin to silence the alarm, an eerie silence settles over the scene. Composer James Horner’s score brings in quiet, high strings in a tentative, trembling statement of Spock’s motif.
Kirk turns on the lights, but they are dim, leaving plenty of space for shadows. William Shatner plays the moment perfectly, as if he were walking through a graveyard on a moonlit Halloween night, his eyes wide with tension and anxiety.
An unseen Leonard Nimoy delivers a pleading, accusatory message from Spock in a rasping voice—a plea for help from some “great beyond.” When we see someone or something sitting in Spock’s chair, the room’s gloom obscuring their face, we could almost believe Spock’s shadow is haunting his cabin.
The scene’s big reveal comes when Kirk grabs Bones by the shoulders and swings him into the light. And then we have to give kudos to DeForest Kelley for keeping the creepy mood going. Looking disheveled and drained, McCoy gives the cryptic command to “climb the steps of Mount Seleya” and to “remember” before collapsing in Kirk’s arms.
From its first moments to its last, Admiral Kirk’s entry into Spock’s “haunted” quarters remains one of the most haunting scenes in any Star Trek movie. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched Star Trek III over the decades, but this scene never fails to give me the shivers.