Horror is the most subjective thing there is. Something either frightens you or it doesn’t. Everyone has different fears, whether they be subtle or surreal, so deciding which type is the scariest is essentially a fools errand but luckily for you, I’m about as foolish as they come. This list will be dealing with the most iconic moments of these films so it goes without saying that every clip will be a massive spoiler. I tried to be as vague as possible in my description and write ups but there’s only so much I can do. From here on out, expect nothing but thrills, chills and tons of jumpscares.
These are the 100 Scariest Movie Moments of All Time.
60. The Demon | Insidious (2011)
James Wan essentially made the better Poltergeist remake years before studios decided to remake it. I always wanted to see what was on the other side of the portal, where Carol Anne was, in Poltergeist. It fascinated me when I was younger and Wan kinda answers that question in Insidious. It’s nothing like I imagined but it’s still pretty spooky.
59. The Attack | The Last House on the Left (1972)
This is the kind of scene that derails any fun a list like this could have. I want this list to be fun. A list discussing effective horror scenes that make you jump or your skin crawl but there’s another side of horror. The dark side that isn’t fun but still needs to be discussed and that’s sexual assault scenes. They’re always distasteful and horrendous but they’re as horrific as it gets. They’re as far away from fun as you can get but I’d argue there’s anything scarier.
58. Sloth | Seven (1995)
Once in a great while, there comes a horror film with such a perfect premise, you’re shocked it took so long for someone to think of it. Whether it’s a killer that stalks you in your dreams, the dead coming back to life to feast on the living or in the case of Seven, a killer that uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi for murder. Such a perfect premise executed flawlessly by Fincher.
57. The Hospital | Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
For some reason, it seems as if the best horror films are one-offs by directors who’ve never made a horror film before. Adrian Lyne is a director known for dramas that use sex as the motivating narrative device. Sex as a weapon, sex as passion, sex as taboo. The man loves sex. But then out of nowhere, he makes Jacob’s Ladder and it’s the least sexy film ever made. In fact, the only ‘sex’ scene in the film is arguably the scariest thing in the movie. But I picked the hospital scene because it’s so iconic, it’s still being ripped off today.
56. The Shunting | Society (1989)
Based on his working relationship with Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna was guaranteed a sequel to The Re-animator, so he decided to make his first film as crazy as humanly possible because even if it failed, he was still guaranteed another film. Thank God he figured out that loop home because there’s not many films like Society. You’ll never forget the first time you witness the Shunting.
55. The Beginning | When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)
When a Stranger Calls has, in my opinion, the greatest opening to any horror film ever. It packs more white knuckle suspense in its first fifteen minutes, than most films can pull off within their entire running time. It’s not as fun as Ghost Ship or pulse pounding as the Dawn of the Dead remake nor is it as iconic as Jaws and Night of the Living Dead but no other film jangles the nerves as effectively. It assaults the viewer with weaponized terror, a feat only two other films have accomplished: Them and the underseen sequel to When a Stranger Calls. Doomed to forever live in the shadow of those first fifteen minutes, When A Stranger Calls Back is actually superior in every way and has a beginning almost as good.
54. All For You | The Omen (1976)
I once babysat my cousin who was about two-ish, and it was late at night when she should’ve been asleep for hours and all of a sudden I hear coming from the baby monitor “No. No. I don’t wanna go with you. Not yet.” I quickly run to her room and ask her who she was talking to and she said, “The man in the closet.” My heart literally stopped. Because the closet was directly behind me. I opened it up and of course nothing was there. That story really has nothing to do with the film other than the fact that kids are creepy and there’s no creepier kid than Damian.
53. The Revelation | Kill List (2011)
The first time I watched Kill List, I was baffled by all the praise it was getting. It was well acted and well directed but I wasn’t seeing anything to warrant it’s glowing reviews. And then the movie becomes something different. There’s a change in the narrative that leads to an unbelievable climax. It’s one of the only films I watched again immediately after it was over.
52. Is Anybody Out There? | The Descent (2005)
I’ve never suffered from claustrophobia but there’s scenes in this film that made me tense up. I could feel myself starting to get anxious watching the girls crawl through those incredibly tight spaces. I was already on edge and that’s before they showed up…
51. The Spider Walk | The Exorcist (1973)
Originally a deleted scene, this scene was too damn good to be left on the cutting room floor. Yes, it messes with the rhythm of the film’s narrative but when a scene is this effective, who cares?
What do you think of the selection so far? What movie scenes have scared you the most? Maybe they will show up further on the list!