So many scary movies, so many scare scenes. But, some of these amazing captures have everything working from them in the tension, atmosphere, suspense department and stick with us long after viewing. Here's my top 10 most scary scenes list from horror movies (old and new combined).
When I evaluate scariest scenes, I disregard "startling" scenes, as anyone can surprise pop out from the corner and shock you. I'm also disregarding graphic guts and blood. That's just grotesque. What I consider to be scariest are scenes that give you a tingling anticipation and perhaps a surprise you didn't see coming. They have to be something that, if it happened in real life and you were there, you would be paralyzed with dread and terror.
That being said, here's my top 10 scariest horror movie scenes in no particular order -
The seance was terrifying enough with them conjuring up the spirit in the home. But, when George C. Scott's character plays back the reel-to-reel audio from the session and hears the little boy's voice on it, it's utterly chilling. The way in which the boy died is drawn out in agonizing detail.
The Creeper dumps the body down the chute and then looks at the kids as they drive by and they know that he knows that they know.
I consider this one to be, to me, the single most chilling moment in a horror movie. The reason is that there is something about the killer being onto you and being vulnerable on the road that horrifies. It's that one moment where you wish you hadn't been where you were, hadn't seen what you saw, but now you are fully invested in the torment to come. It felt very real life and that moment you know you life will never be the same.
The Omen had so many terrifying moments, it can be hard to pinpoint one. I saw it at 13 and got into the theater because a friend's adult brother bought the tickets. I was utterly horrified. But, the scene that stuck with me the longest was the graveyard scene when the ambassador hikes over the wrought iron fencing into the graveyard to dig up the body with a horrifying find and then is chased by the cemetery dogs.
The shower scene.
You stay in a hotel and you have to wonder - is someone watching me through a peephole? Maybe video'ing me for some racy internet page? What if they come in while I'm sleeping or showering? There's nothing more vulnerable than taking a shower and nothing more out of the expected than to be knifed in one. That scene pretty much made folks lock the bathroom door first.
The news capture of the events.
There were some great tense scenes in Signs, like the pantry shut-in alien and the kitchen knife scene. I remember worrying about what I would see reflected on the blade (brilliant!) but what gave me the most chills was the scene with the alien caught on news tape going by a birthday party. The way they news captured the events in the movie was how it would go down here, watching thin air and seeing a bird hit something invisible and fall to the ground. It was so real life up-to-the-minute real that it put it in our frame of reference for getting our huge events on major cable news channels.
When a Stranger Calls.
The police tell the babysitter the man is in the house.
You've just been frightened in a stranger's house, in charge of young children when you're a child yourself. A stranger keeps calling you and telling you to check on the kids, and then the police trace the call to call you back and warn you - he's calling from a phone in the house! Do you go upstairs for the kids? Do you split? What do you do? This was one of the more shocking moments in a 1970s horror film.
The scene with the kid and the clown doll.
You don't like the clown doll your parents got you, but it's got a permanent residence in a chair in your room. You try to cover it up so you don't see it, but one night, it's not there. It's under the bed. And, it's taking you with it. That scene was just too intense. Most of us hate clowns, many of us hate dolls, but combine the worst nightmare of a doll clown taking you under the bed where you know monsters exist....
The junkyard ghost, the Juggernaut.
The opening scene of Thirteen Ghosts (remake) was chilling. They hunted down the Juggernaut, a huge horrifying ghost in a junkyard. The tension was intense, the darkness, and the anger palpable. It set the tone for the whole movie of horrifying entities.
The Blair Witch Project.
The ending in the abandoned shack.
In this movie, you've pretty much gone along with these three kids, out of their element, scared by an unknown entity, and you think they might, just might get away (at least two of them) until you're faced with a dead end in which the last conscious person realizes her own fate. We still like to freak friends out in abandoned places by standing in the corner and not responding....
The brother floating outside the window.
It's hard enough losing your brother, but when he shows up outside your window floating around and tapping on the glass, you have a real dilemma. It's your brother, but it shouldn't be....
I have hundreds of movie moments that gave me thrills and chills, but these 10 stuck with me for a pivotal scene that truly gave me chills the first time I saw it and hung in the back of my mind since....