What classic movies have at least one guaranteed freak-out moment? Here’s our definitive list of the 55 most terrifying scenes from the most horrific science fiction and fantasy movies.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) Scariest moment:“Matthew, is that you?” Nope.
Doctor X (1932) Scariest moment: The vat of plastic skin reveal.
Signs (2002) Scariest moment:The first home footage of the invading aliens. “Move, children. Vamanos.”
Phantasm (1979) Scariest moment:Attack in the Mausoleum.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) Scariest moment:Hyde scares the crap out of Ivy.
Village of the Damned (1960) Scariest moment: The evil children turn the guns on the adults.
The Day the Earth Stood Still(1951) Scariest moment:The chilling moments when Gort is about to destroy our world.
Peeping Tom (1960) Scariest moment: The killer who has been deranged by his mad psychologist father, finally reveals his weapon of choice.
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) Scariest moment: When we finally see the mad doctor’s diabolical scheme to put the blood of an ape into the body of a nubile, caged woman!
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) Scariest moment: The creature’s first appearance!
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Scariest moment:The Pale Man.
Jurassic Park (1993) Scariest moment:Raptors in the kitchen.
I Walked with a Zombie (1943) Scariest moment: When the audience finds out what the plantation owners really are up to.
Quatermass and the Pit (1967) Scariest moment: After the scientists first start investigating the strange spaceship buried deep underground and people start having strange visions.
The Descent (2005) Scariest moment: The over the shoulder crawler that appears for the first time after the lights go out.
Cat People (1942) Scariest moment:A giant cat creature stalks our heroine around a pool.
Godzilla (1954) Scariest moment: Godzilla attacks Tokyo and we see graphic imagery of people being burned to death.
Scanners (1981) Scariest moment: When the scanners are first created in the creepy hospital.
Manchurian Candidate (1962) Scariest moment:Angela Lansbury (the Queen of Diamonds) cooly reveals her plans for Shaw. The woman is diabolical.
The Birds (1963) Scariest moment:Bird murder.
Cloverfield (2008) Scariest moment:The tunnel part. “Okay, just to be clear here, our options are: die here, die in the tunnels, or die in the streets. That’s pretty much it?”
God Told Me To (1976) Scariest moment: St. Patrick’s Day Parade . . . of death!
Carrie (1976) Scariest moment:The terrible, horrible dream sequence.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) Scariest moment: What happens to the family that decides to hide in the basement.
Forbidden Planet (1956) Scariest moment: While the astronauts are hiding in the ship the perimeter alarm goes off, despite the fact that nothing seems to be outside.
The Signal (2007) Scariest moment:Mya trying to leave the apartment without pissing off her rage crazed hubby, after he’s just offed a few of his buddies.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) Scariest moment: As a helpless victim runs through the streets, fleeing the murderer, the whole world morphs into a scary expressionist dream world.
The Blob (1988) Scariest moment:This remake has a lot of fun showing the audience what happens when you become one with THE BLOB.
Event Horizon (1997) Scariest moment:“Liberate tutame ex inferis.”
The Fly (1986) Scariest moment:The total fly transformation right in front of Geena Davis’ eyes.
Cabin Fever (2002) Scariest moment: An innocent shower turns deadly when one infected character unknowingly begins to shave chunks of her flesh off.
The Ruins (2008) Scariest moment:What do you do when a carnivorous plant buries under your skin, slowly feasting on your insides? Get a knife, and hack it out.
The Cell (2000) Scariest moment:Vince Vaughn’s intestine is slowly, delicately and delightfully tugged out of his belly, inch by inch.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990) Scariest moment:Has Jacob Singer gone insane, or is the whole world conspiring against him? It’s hard to know who to believe when you watch a bunch of eyeless doctors experiment on the poor, mad Jacob.
Fire In The Sky (1993) Scariest moment:The abduction scene, the whole enchilada. From the floating to the shrink wrapped human dissection scene. The rest of the movie is pretty ho-hum, but that one scene will stick with you for days.
The Thing (1982) Scariest moment:After tying up half of the cast on the bench, Kurt Russell then slowly proceeds to test each character for monster blood. Try not to bite your fingernails off as he tries to figure out who’s the murderous creature in human form.
28 Days Later (2002) Scariest moment: A very empty London. Chills.
Dawn Of the Dead (1978) Scariest moment:The handsome Roger transforms into a hideous, blue zombie.
Alien (1979) Scariest moment: The infamous dinner alien-busting-out-of-the-chest scene. True it’s been spoofed to death, but the first time you see it, it’s a classic scare.
Communion (1989) Scariest moment:Christopher Walken plays peek-a-boo with alien invaders.
The Brood (1979) Scariest moment: One word: fetus.
Christine (1983) Scariest moment: The evil Plymouth Fury happily flashes its lights as its captive slowly chokes to death on a seatbelt.
The Ring (2002) Scariest moment:Based on Koji Suzuki’s novel Ring, this American adaptation of the 1998 Japanese film had a lot of people terrified to turn on their TVs (I covered mine with a towel after my first viewing). The show stopping scene has to be Samara’s death strike.
The Shining (1980) Scariest moment:Stanley Kubrick’s ingenious blend of the slow burn and jump scare. There is nothing more terrifying than following little Danny Torrance as he pedals around the haunted hotel. His encounter with the twins is a legendary scare that’s peppered with swift cuts to a bloody axe.
The Exorcist III: Legion (1990) Scariest moment:Mostly meh, but the scare inside the hospital from the unexpected head chopping nun lives on despite this movies flaws.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Scariest moment:Say what you will about Hollywood’s merciless beating of this dead franchise. The oscillating fan gag in PA3 was pretty brilliant. Set in the 80s, the main character was desperate to cover more ground with his cameras. So he took apart his family fan and put a camera on it. Thus creating an exceptionally slow scare with little to no effort.
Rec (2007) Scariest moment:Trapped in the penthouse with the world’s most disgusting zombie creature.
Poltergeist (1982) Scariest moment:So many to choose from. “They’re here,” face melting, bodies in the pool, but perhaps the biggest jump is that damn clown. You knew it was coming, and when it finally did, it didn’t disappoint.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Scariest moment:Tina is flayed in her sleep while her helpless boyfriend watches as Freddy takes her bloody body on a tour across the ceiling. Don’t have sex in horror movies kids!
Nosferatu (1922) Scariest moment: The shadow vampire scene in Nosferatucan out scare any other horror movie with CG. Creepy clawed hands down.
Hellraiser (1987) Scariest moment: The puzzle box of pleasures opens up and reveals a team of horror icons. Clive Barker’s Hellraiser flicks may be a bit silly, but the first glimpse of the skin-pulled Cenobites lives on forever.
The Blair Witch Project (1999) Scariest moment:Even though we never got to see the actual Blair Witch, the end scene set up revealed a much more nefarious plan for the little lost documentary crew.
The Haunting (1963) Scariest moment:Someone’s at the door.
Insidious (2010) Scariest moment:The ghost in the corner.
Frankenstein (1931) Scariest moment:It’s alive! Aliiiiiive!