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The 20 Most Terrifying Jump Scares In Horror Movies

18 May 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

terrifying jump scares

A good horror film is usually judged on one single most important criteria: its scare factor. If it possesses moments that make you jump out of your seat – all the better. There can be moments that frighten you so much, you never forget them. The following horror movie scenes, they still have an effect on me even after repeat viewings. These moments become iconic and stick with the viewers forever.

I have made for you a list of top 20 jump scares in horror movie history. Check them out and log your own picks in the comments, as I know it is a very subjective thing.


20. Friday 13th


The Scare: Alice awakens on Crystal Lake as her boat drifts gently across the water. Suddenly, Jason’s mangled corpse pops out of the water and drags her under. Eat your heart out, Jaws.

Jump Out of Your Seat When: The camera begins to zoom in on Alice. “He’s still there!”


19. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


The Scare: Kirk investigates what appears to be an abandoned old house, but finds somebody at home in the form of Leatherface, who jumps out suddenly and bashes him over the head.

Jump Out of Your Seat When: As soon as Kirk sets foot over the threshold, things get unbearably tense.


18. A Nightmare On Elm Street


The Scare: Marge contentedly watches a group of children playing on her lawn, until Freddy punches his fist through her front door and drags her back into the house. Shamelessly cheap, but delivered with such gusto, it can’t be ignored!

Jump Out of Your Seat When: A look of peace finally settles upon Marge’s face…


17. The Exorcist


The Scare: Reagan’s mother sees something shocking out of frame… her daughter, bent over like a spider, scuttling down the staircase.

Jump Out of Your Seat When: Unlike many jump scares, this one is flagged up nice and clearly by the mother’s expression. The reveal still comes as a surprise though!

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  • Korabljenik

    Excellent #1 pick!

  • Stu

    #1 is the only scare in that movie, and still makes me check behind me as I walk down an empty hallway.

  • Graham Ian Mann Gogs

    The head rolling out the boat in Jaws was the biggest scare I ever had I went from sat on the floor in front of the TV to over the sofa crying at the back of the room in less than half a second, much to the amusement of my dad.

    • steve button

      I saw Jaws at the cinema…the whole theatre screamed when that happened…you could smoke back then..cigarettes went flying..!

  • Troy Saling

    Amazing #1

    Went with my dad and still get goosebumps from that random scebe

  • Steve Taylor

    Was surprised to see no mention of the “Sloth” scene in Se7en

  • James Tracy

    So glad you picked the thing defib scene. That one comes out of nowhere

  • budasidehero

    Darth Maul scared the shit outta me in Insidious

    • Danial Arief

      yea !!! But cant wait for the sequel hehehe

  • DLM Entertainment

    Much respect for number 1. That one still scares the piss out of me.

  • Mase

    That “ghost” in this frame of exorcist 3 looks like a dude totally wrapped up in a bedsheet lol.

    • baros62

      That’s because, that’s what it was! It was figuratively speaking.

  • James

    the fucked up bat like thing in the descent, i was not expecting that

  • Ellery Racca

    sinister… the very end and anytime you notice the boogeyman moving about throughout the movie… especially the still photo on the computer, we know that it doesn’t take much sfx for that one, but its still freaking creepy!

  • RC13

    Maybe not a horror movie to say but….The Man Behind The Wall scene in Mulholland Drive scared the absolute shit of me when I first saw it! (Two months ago, I was 21!) But the Friday The 13th scene was the first jump scare i experienced as a kid…totally fucked me up now!

  • Darren

    Missed a big one here that should knock off one of the lower rated ones. The scene in “The Sentinel” where that old naked guy comes outta nowhere from behind the door and races across the room. It’s similar to #1 on the list in terms of its surprise, creepiness and speed.

    • steve button

      That’s a good, underrated thriller!


    Jacob’s Ladder. Right near the end…

  • Benjboi

    The match test scene in the thing for me, jumped that high I nearly ended up behind by sofa

  • demoncat_4

    nice though would have had this list be a tie between the nightmare on elm street one and the first friday the 13 espically when it shows that sorry freddy and jason are not gone like every one wanted plus glad to see the blair witch one make the list for that was totaly creepy

  • chris murphy

    I was scared for a moment you might have left out Exorcist 3. Really glad you made that #1. Easily the most disturbing shock ever. Pure genius on the setup and delivery. BRAVO.

  • steve button

    Good choices…the scene in Carrie was totally unexpected at the time…really freaked me out when I was 9!

  • umberto luciani

    for sure, you missed this one ;)

  • Brandon See

    Samuel L Jackson’s death scene in Deep Blue Sea made me jump sky high. The last shot in I Know What You Did Last Summer also had that effect on me.