10. The Ring
The Line: “Seven days…”
Context: After coming across a strange VHS tape, Rachel (Naomi Watts) decides to view it and see what it is about. Strange images involving a chair, a ladder, an animated woman’s portrait, and a little girl fading in the background among other things is what she sees on the tape.
The viewing is immediately followed by a telephone call where she hears the infamous two words.
Why is it great: After hearing the words, Rachel knows she only has a week to figure out what is going on and unravel the mysterious tape’s origins. The intensity is ramped up severely when her son accidentally watches the tape sealing his fate as well.
The Line: “Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!”
Context: After piecing together his “monster” creation (Boris Karloff) from taking body parts of already dead bodies, Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clave) raises his creation to the heavens so it can be electrified with life-giving lightning energy and is pleased with the results.
Why is it great: The line confirms Frankenstein’s work has been a success and now he has to deal with the results and consequences of his actions.
One of the “father’s” of all monster movies ever made, the original “Frankenstein” horrified its audiences in the 1930s and laid the groundwork for many sequels, remakes and retellings.
The Line: “A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
Context: A woman (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from her employer and decides to make a quick getaway. She stops in at the “Bates Motel” on her way and meets the proprietor, Norman Bates Anthony Perkins.
During conversation with Bates, he tries to decide on her motives and direction. While making small talk, she asks him if he has any friends.
Why is it great: The line says a lot about the character of Norman Bates and, obviously, foreshadows his madness and the events which are about to happen in the shower scene and beyond.
Bates tries to contain his enthusiasm for a new guest through the rest of the scene continually glancing up at the house waiting for scorn from his “mother”.
7. Silence of the Lambs
The Line: 27. “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
Context: After being sent to visit with convicted murderer and cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), unseasoned FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) attempts to solicit his cooperation in the manhunt for a new serial killer “Buffalo Bill”.
In their first awkward meeting, Lecter sizes up Starling and tries to decide if he will release any information or just toy with her and be offended a trainee was sent to meet with him.
Why is it great: It’s hard to decide which is better: the actual line or the slurping sound which follows it. Both are downright sinister. The initial scene featuring this line sets up the Lecter character and might be what wins Hopkins his Academy Award.
An impressive feat was the fact that “Silence of the Lambs” was released around Valentine’s Day 1991 and doesn’t win Best Picture for over a year afterwards.
The quote is currently #21 on the AFI’S 100 GREATEST MOVIE QUOTES OF ALL TIME.
The Line: “They’re here!”
Context: After the Freeling family moves into their new home, unusual things begin to happen.
Remember the days when television networks actually went off the air at 2 a.m.? That is what happens before Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) gets out of bed where she is sleeping with her parents to investigate.
Through the flickering television static she is contacted by a ghostly hand which then disappears into the bedroom wall and shakes the room violently.
Why is it great: At this point in the film, you are not sure what to expect in the way of supernatural or ghostly phenomenon.
You are not sure why Carol Anne is the only one who can see and communicate with the “ghosts” before she gets swallowed up by them and then has to be rescued.
The quote is currently #69 on the AFI’S 100 GREATEST MOVIE QUOTES OF ALL TIME.
The Line: “Get away from her, you bitch.”
Context: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Newt (Carrie Henn) have made it back to the platform. Newt is hiding under the metal grating after the alien queen has chased Ripley into a cargo hatch.
The door reopens and Ripley emerges driving the “power loader” ready for her final stand.
Why is it great: The line sets up the final battle with Ripley and the alien queen perfectly. The queen turns her attention away from Newt and toward her new foe.
They then have a final scuffle where Ripley has to use the loader’s assets and her own wits in order to survive. The loader ends up pinning the queen down an airlock and Ripley is forced to open the airlock to release the alien into space.
4. The Sixth Sense
The Line: “I see dead people.”
Context: During a meeting between troubled child, Cole (Haley Joel Osment), and Dr. Crowe (Bruce Willis), Cole admits to Dr. Crowe the secret he has been keeping.
Why is it great: It is great for many reasons.
The whole twist ending is so very obvious when you see the film the 2nd time, but the 1st time it fooled everyone. The child even says “they see what they want to see” and “they do not know they are dead” and yet no one figured it out.
The quote is currently #44 on the AFI’S 100 GREATEST MOVIE QUOTES OF ALL TIME.
3. The Exorcist
The Line: “The Power of Christ compels you!”
Context: During the climactic exorcism scene between Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), Father Karras (Jason Miller) and Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), things seem to be turning when Regan rises up off her bed. “The Power of Christ” seems to be winning, so the priests repeat the line several times in order to continue their progress toward salvation.
Father Merrin even burns Regan, by spraying some holy water on her leg.
Why is it great: The intensity and voraciousness of the two actor’s repeating the line over and over as Regan’s body is slowly lowered back to her bed is what is great. At this point, you feel like exorcism is indeed possible if only their belief is strong enough.
The Line: “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”
Context: While aboard the Orca with Quint (Robert Shaw), Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider) has to “chum” the water in hopes of luring the giant great white out so he can be killed.
He is all too successful as “Bruce” rears his mammoth head above the water for Brody to get his first look.
Why is it great: According to screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, the line was actually adlibbed by Scheider on set.
The line intends to serve as a warning from Brody to Quint that they may have a bigger problem than what they bargained for. The ordeal of chasing, hunting and catching the great white will have just begun.
The quote is currently #35 on the AFI’S 100 GREATEST MOVIE QUOTES OF ALL TIME.
1. The Shining
The Line: “Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”
Context: After a lengthy stay at the Overlook Hotel, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) has finally reached his wits end with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and has chased her into a bathroom wielding an ax.
She attempts to escape through a small open window to join her son Danny (Danny Lloyd) outside in the snow-covered darkness to no avail.
Why is it great: Nicholson adlibbed the line and was nearly not used by director Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick lived in England and was unfamiliar with Johnny Carson or “The Tonight Show”.
According to Duvall, the scene was shot over 3 days and used over 60 doors in total.
IMDb lists an alternate explanation for the line as “Johnny Cash used a fire axe to break a connecting “doorway” between two motel rooms that he and his band members were using while on tour, and then broke through one of the doors from the corridor to make it look as if a thief had broken in and trashed the rooms.
The quote is currently #68 on the AFI’S 100 GREATEST MOVIE QUOTES OF ALL TIME.
Author Bio: Andy Kubica is a life-long cinephile. Having spend time as a video store manager, movie theater manager and the first DVD buyer for a former rental chain he now spends every waking moment reducing his film “bucket list”.