The 30 Scariest Movie Moments Of All Time
Horror is an intensely subjective genre and one difficult to define; it isn’t easy to pinpoint what constitutes something being scary. Does fear come from a sense of brooding dread and atmosphere? Is it the unknown, the barely seen on screen, or the graphic and unpleasant, body-focused horror of physical repulsion? Is it a sense of the uncanny and the mundane slightly askew or all out screaming, fleeing terror?
The compiled list presents a solid collection of the most classic, ‘scariest’ scenes in movie history, including film scenes that were once considered ‘scary’ upon their initial screenings (or scary for young viewers), but have lost some of their shock appeal.
Everyone could probably rattle off a list of movies that gave them nightmares when they were children. But what are the scariest moments in film of all time? Start the countdown, if you dare…
30. The Wicker Man
The Moment: Policeman Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) is locked inside a giant wicker statue, which is then set on fire.
Hide Behind The Sofa When: Somebody’s going to rescue him, right? Er, no.
The Moment: Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) has had enough of her writer hostage Paul Sheldon (James Caan) trying to escape.
Hide Behind The Sofa When: She introduces Paul to ye olde practice of hobbling, by breaking his ankles with a sledgehammer.
28. The Descent
The Moment: A group of lost lady cavers discover a passage littered with bones.
Hide Behind The Sofa When: A ‘crawler’ – a subterranean throwback to god-knows-what – appears through the night vision camera behind one of the girls.
27. The Wizard Of Oz
The Moment: Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) and Toto set off on a perilous quest to steal the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton).
Hide Behind The Sofa When: The Witch dispatches an army of flying monkeys to capture Dorothy and Toto.
26. Pan’s Labyrinth
The Moment: Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) goes on a mission to steal the dagger of the Pale Man (Doug Jones).
Hide Behind The Sofa When: Ofelia breaks the rules and eats from the monster’s table, and he chases after her, using eyes in his hands to see.
25. Les Diaboliques
The Moment: Christina (Véra Clouzot) finds the missing corpse of her husband Michel (Paul Meurisse) in the bathtub.
Hide Behind The Sofa When: Michel’s ‘corpse’ rises from the tub, giving Christina a fatal heart attack.