Some films begin with a mystery, and some come roaring out of the gate.
Having a great opening scene no matter what kind can be the most important part when an audience is considering staying for the ride or instantly checking out; for horror, it seems that the opening scene plays a large role when considering what type of film it is about to be. It’s always fun when a film jumps right into the action and creates a deep sense of tension or dread for the viewer, though some do it better than others.
These are the 10 scariest opening scenes to horror movies.
1. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
This film’s opening sequences set the tone for a thrilling and frightening film that unfolds as the calls keep coming, and as the tension builds up.
The silence and loneliness of the opening scene only being broken by the high-pitched ringing of a phone is chilling, and then with the first words spoken by the mysterious voice, create an idea of what will happen in the film.
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The opening scene of this horror classic not only left the Audience in shock but also gave us one of the most recognizable lines in film history, and a foreshadowing of the rest of the film, as Johnny played by Russell Streiner says, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara”.
A true horror gem to frighten up your weekend.
3. The Twilight Zone (1983)
The scene is two pals, played by Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks, driving late into the night.
Singing songs and looking for conversation, they begin to discuss what they think are the scariest “Twilight Zone” episodes; just as the conversation dies out, Aykroyd looks at Brooks and says, “Do you wanna see something really scary?” Intrigued, the driver says yes, and this is when a memorable jump scare occurs.
4. It (2017)
What many consider Stephen King’s best and scariest work was originally created in a two-part miniseries that wasn’t the best, and if you think about it, was begging to be remade into something that had a theatrical release.
kThe opening scene leaves a dual impact on us: Killing of a vulnerable child, and anticipating what’s in store for the kids of Derry.
5. It Follows (2014)
“It Follows” begins the slow-burning film with one of the more exciting scenes it has to offer. It starts with a teenage girl frantically running through her neighborhood searching for something that we cannot see and have no choice but to hang on for the ride.
The shocking and horrific kill, though only showing the aftermath, is enough to start this film going 100 mph before slowing down to a brooding pace that creates an anxious wait for what is to come next.
6. The Hitcher (1986)
Pouring rain, a long drive, and one hitchhiker, what could go wrong? Well, everything, if we’re talking about the horrific beginning to Robert Harmon’s 1986 film.
Second, by a second, this opening scene builds tension, from Rutger Hauer revealing what he had done to the last person to pick him, up to his horrifying question of, “Do you wanna know what happens to an eyeball when it gets punctured?”
7. Black Sunday (1960)
Mario Bava’s horror classic opens with a stark black-and-white scene with many hooded figures raising torches, waiting for the execution of a suspected witch.
It begins with the possibility that this killing is wrong and simply done based on false merits that all changes right before the brutal death. This scene’s sound designs heightens the fear and the darkness of it, elevating it to its deadly and bloody conclusion.
8. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
What really makes this scene so terrifying and memorable is the ending, where the soon-to-be main character Don must choose between saving his own life, or possibly dying with his wife and the kid through the hands of the hoarding Zombies.
The scene holds a lot of emotion and terror and leaves us with the question of what we would have done in that scenario, making it all the more chilling.
9. The Stepfather (1987)
“The Stepfather,” while not the most memorable of the 80’s horror films, packs a lot of punches and a lot of that is thanks to Terry O’Quinn’s performance. What truly makes the scene so powerful is the complete calmness of Jerry as he simply grabs his suitcase and happily walks down the street leaving a family brutally murdered by himself.
The complete lack of emotion we get from O’Quinn in this scene only sets up that this is someone you hope to not run into, and that this was probably not his first slaughter.
10. Scream (1996)
The simple beginning shows a teenage girl, played by Drew Barrymore, home alone waiting for her boyfriend so that they can watch a movie, as she gets a call from a mysterious person. Not only does this set up a brutal sequence of events, but also where we get one of the most quoted film lines of all time: “What’s your favorite scary movie?”
The shocking death of Drew Barrymore within the first 10 minutes is a well-created twist and sets up the violent future that the town of Woodsboro is about to face.