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.
20. Salem’s Lot-‘Tapping on the glass’
There’s probably no author alive who’s had more adaptations of his work than Stephen King. From his huge blockbusters to his short stories, almost everything has been covered. When mentioning the best films based on his work, for some reason, Salem’s Lot always gets lost in the shuffle. And it’s a shame because i think it’s one of his best works. And he agrees.
19. Jaws-‘Ben Gardner’s Boat’
I tried to limit my picks to just one moment per film but when you have a movie as iconic as Jaws, you gotta bend the rules. Spielberg is obviously one of the greatest filmmakers alive but i wish i could travel to a universe where he mostly made horror films. Between films like Duel, Poltergeist, Jurassic Park, Jaws and even parts of War of the Worlds, Spielberg proved that if he wanted to, he could’ve been the greatest horror director who ever lived.
First time i saw Signs, I was at my uncle’s house and I immediately stopped it when it was over and made everyone in the house watch it with me. (They avoided it Because “Stop Signs aren’t scary”) During the pivotal scene in question, my cousin jumped so hard, she honest to god raised about 2 inches. I’ve yet to see anything like that happen again.
17. Don’t Look Now-‘The End’
I believe Nicolas Roeg beat Hitchcock to the rights to the novel this film is based on by one hour. As amazing as the film is, a part of me is extremely curious to see what Hitchcock would’ve done with the material. He always wanted to go darker and Don’t Look Now is essentially an American giallo film. He could’ve ended his career on the film he always wanted to make but the censors wouldn’t let him.
16. Halloween-‘The Boogeyman’
Whenever There’s a turning point in cinema, There’s always a film you can point to that changed everything. If you wanted to trace the origins of the blockbuster, you’ll inevitably end with Jaws. The same applies to horror. Scream ushered in a new line of self-aware slashers, Hostel brought us torture porn but Halloween started everything. You could argue Black Christmas was the first slasher but it’s really Halloween that perfected the genre tropes we have today. It’s ground zero for horror. The clip cuts out the closest attack scene and every closest attack scene cuts out the best part. So i added two of them.
15. Poltergeist-‘The Clown’
I first saw this film when i was about 5 or 6. My father put it on and said he would change the channel when the scary scenes happened. I was sitting on the living room floor and he was on the couch which was situated behind me and unbeknownst to me, he passed out. Everything was fine, like there’s some creepy scenes like chairs in the kitchen but nothing was giving me sweats, until the clown showed up. I remember seeing that moment and that’s it. I don’t remember seeing the rest of the film and i was so scared, i was frozen in that position until my mother got home from work and found me. Chucky, The clown from poltergeist, the toys in The Tommyknockers, I’m apparently scared shitless by toys coming to life.
14. Suspiria-‘The Beginning’
I’m not an Italian horror fan. Something about the Giallo genre doesn’t click for me. Maybe it’s the dream logic or the fact that you don’t see the killer or the fact that the majority of them focus on the police procedure aspect and that’s usually painfully boring, There’s something about them that keeps me at arms length. Suspiria is no different. I love the score and i love the visual aesthetic but it’s an enigma i can’t seem to crack. But it has one hell of an opening, that’s for damn sure.
13. Carrie-‘The End’
Stephen King loves to write about kids dealing with supernatural forces. Whether it’s “The Losers Club” dealing with a shape-shifting clown that feeds on your fear in IT, Danny Torrance confronted with ghosts and other terrors in The Shining or poor Carrie White who was born with a power she doesn’t understand in Carrie. But unlike the rest of his books, Carrie is not only the tormented, She becomes the tormenter. Her powers could’ve been used for anything, they could’ve potentially made her life amazing but because high school is hell, they were used for revenge.
12. The Vanishing-‘The truth is finally revealed’
There’s not many films that leave me with a pit in my stomach. That are so acutely distressing, so unbelievably bleak, you want to either take a shower or curl up in a ball and cry. The Vanishing is not an easy film to watch because it deals with the normality of evil. The everyday evil. The evil that happens when someone decides what it would be like to take someone’s life. If you haven’t seen this film, i recommend you do so and avoid the clip.
11. The Shining-‘Come Play With Us’
Is there a more perfectly constructed horror film than The Shining? The acting, the location, the amazing score, the unnerving, unexplained visuals, every element is subconsciously inducing dread. It’s slowly building up the tension till everything goes fucking banana balls and you’re left shaken by a what the fuck just happened.