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.
90. The Witch–‘Peekaboo’
The brilliance of the Witch is that it takes it’s premise deadly serious. There’s no winking at the audience, There is no cliched Hansel and Gretel homage. None of that Bullshit. There is something evil in the woods and it is real and it wants something.
89. Zombie –‘Stake’
Zombie has as many holy shit moments as it does alternate titles. There’s a scene where a zombie fights a shark and it’s one of the greatest things put on screen. But we’re not here to talk about that, we’re here to talk about the infamous stake scene. There is probably no scene in film history that builds tension as well as this scene. But unlike other films, Fulci delivers the goods.
88. Marathon Man–‘Is It Safe?’
Marathon Man is essentially a James Bond film But told through the eyes of his non-existent brother. Hoffman gets caught in the web of espionage that culminates in his extremely painful interrogation by the hands of a Nazi dentist. Is It Safe?
87. The Night Of The Hunter–‘It’s A Hard World For Little Things’
One of the greatest tragedies is the fact that Charles Laughton only got to direct one film. But a film it is. A film so ahead of it’s time, so dark, it ruined any chance of Laughton being a director again. When she blows out the candle…i wish i had a time machine to see the audience reaction to that. Chilling.
86. Dumbo–‘Pink Elephants’
Often regarded by pioneers of the industry as the greatest animated film of all time, Dumbo tells the story….you know the story. He’s an elephant that can fly. It’s a cute story. But who the hell thought it was a great idea to add a five minute hallucinogenic trip in the middle of the Damn thing?? If this film didn’t scar you like it did me, you can replace it with either the transformation scene and/or the whale attack in Pinocchio or night on bald mountain from Fantasia. All equally fucked up.
85. The Changeling–‘Rubber Ball’
Ghost stories are a dime a dozen but this one has George C. Scott in it so it’s instantly better than 90% of them. There was a time when studios would put their biggest stars in their horror films and thank god they did because the grief Scott portrays in this film is palpable. Because he’s such an incredible presence, every decision he makes has an extra weight to it. Including the decision to get rid of his sons rubber ball. But somethings come back.
84. The Birds–‘Crows On The Playground’
Yes, The effects have aged but goddamn were they impressive for the time. The amount of real birds he would get for one scene is incredible. I used to live in Oklahoma and there was a Wal-Mart where hundreds upon hundreds of birds would congregate. I have no idea why but there’s something eerily sinister about seeing a bunch of birds just crowded together. In one place. It’s like they’re all waiting for something….
83. Black Christmas–‘The Phone Calls’
Depending on who you ask, This is the beginning of the slasher. All the tropes are established here. One location with a bunch of characters being offed one by one, but this film had something the other films didn’t borrow-the killers voice. Not only does he kill them but he wants to leave extremely graphic and perverse phone calls before he does it. Which plays an integral part in the bone chilling finale.
82. Final Destination 5–‘Gymnastics’
The beauty of the Final Destination franchise isn’t trying to guess the killer or who will be killed, It’s trying to figure out the Rube Goldberg-Esque way they’re going to die before it happens. They always show you all the steps before they happen and the best ones have an outcome you couldn’t guess.
81. The Phantom Of The Opera–‘The Unmasking’
Before Andrew Lloyd Webber turned him into a musical icon, Lon Chaney Sr. made him a monster. The revelation of his face was so shocking, Audience members were prone to pass out. That’s the power of cinema and the power of effective horror.