Horror is the most subjective thing there is, something either frightens you or it doesn’t. There’s subtle horror, surreal horror, and the good ol’ fashioned jump scare. Deciding which type is the scariest is essentially a fools errand but lucky for you, I’m about as foolish as they come. Since this list will be dealing with either the endings of these films or the biggest “Gotcha Moment”, all the links will obviously be filled with spoilers. I will be as vague as possible in my description but spoilers are still in effect. Oh and this goes without saying but these scenes are out of context, so to really get the full benefit from each scene you really should watch the entire film. I will try my hardest to include the scene in question for every entry and if i can’t, I’ll at least include the trailer. I present to you what i believe are the scariest movie moments of all time.
Massive Spoilers In The Links Below.
10. Exorcist 3-‘The Nurse’
It’s funny to think that some of the scariest movie scenes of all time came from a writer that won his money from Groucho Marx’s game show. But a great writer can start anywhere and William Peter Blatty not only was an incredibly talented writer, Legion: Exorcist 3 proved he was also an amazing director. It’s a shame he only directed two films but damn, what a pair of films.
9. Audition-‘I’ll Wait For Your Call’
When the Bravo channel did their list of the scariest movie moments back in 04 (Jesus, has it been that long?) Audition was the only film on the list i had never heard of and they had it number 11. A film i had never heard of was almost in the top ten. That automatically meant i needed to see it and it Bravo was correct in having it so high, it did not disappoint.
8. Sleepaway Camp-‘The End’
On the surface, Sleepaway Camp is your typical slasher film. There’s a bunch of teens running amok at a camp and one by one, they all start dying. But then the ending happens. Even if you guess who the killer is, there’s absolutely no way of guessing the end. It’s not only shocking but something about it creeps me the fuck out.
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-‘Is Anyone Home?’
I don’t think there’s a more affective horror film in existence. I don’t know if it’s the way it’s shot or the way it’s acted but it not only feels real but it feels dirty. It has a snuff film quality to it. You feel like taking a shower after watching it. It’s one of the last films that truly felt dangerous. They don’t make ’em like this anymore, that’s for damn sure.
6. When A Stranger Calls-‘Have You Checked The Children?’
If I was ranking this list based on my own personal opinions (which I obviously am but I mean with a tad less objectivity) This moment would be number one. I do not believe there is a scarier beginning, ending or moment in cinema. The rest of the film is wonky but it kinda doesn’t matter. The first 12 minutes is it’s own movie and it’s the best horror film every made.
5. The Blair Witch Project-‘Looking For Josh’
Horror films suffer the most from hype. This film had the greatest campaign in history and I think that not only did hype sort of tarnish its effectiveness but the over saturation of found footage films have probably stopped future generations from discovering it. But go back to 1999. You thought this was real. And that ending terrified you.
4. The Thing-‘The Blood Test’
When you’re compiling a list of the best movie moments and you have at least 5 to choose from, you know that movie is a classic. The Thing is a veritable cornucopia of awesome shit. So just kinda pretend this moment it really the entire film. Number 4 is all of The Thing. I’m joking but not really.
3. The Exorcist-‘The Head Spin’
A movie that has lost some of its power due to years of parodies and jokes but you don’t spend 40 years parodying a shit film. A film so powerful when it released, that the Catholic church denounced it, claiming it carried the “Essence of Satan in its reels.” That’s pretty much climbing mount Everest in terms of horror movie achievements.
2. Alien-‘The Dinner Scene’
There’s moments I really wish I could’ve witnessed and the audience reaction to this scene is one of them. I’ve shown people this scene and it gets them but it doesn’t have the same power I know a ten year old kid seeing this in the 70’s would have. This is one of those pivotal movie moments that shaped an entire generation. One half saw this and never wanted to see another horror film and the other half is working in Hollywood now because they want to recreate that moment for younger generations. There might not be a more iconic horror movie moment.
1. Psycho-‘The Shower’
This scene is many things. It’s one of the best directed scenes of all time, it’s one of the best twists of all time, one of the most shocking movie moments ever and it singlehandedly created an entire genre. This scene birthed the slasher. It works because it taps into a fear no one had until this movie came out. How vulnerable we are in the shower. Something everyone does but no one thought could be horrifying. I lock the bathroom door before I take a shower now because of this film. There’s creepier moments and more sinister moments but nothing is more terrifying than the thought of looking through soap covered eyes to see a figure standing between you and a plastic shower curtain. The Shower scene is my pick for the scariest movie moment of all time.