50 Scariest Moments In Non-Horror Movies

Unexpected scares

The Wages Of Fear (1953)

The Moment: The entirety of the painstaking truck journey across a seemingly endless stretch of pothole-riddled road, as our heroes attempt to transport a payload of nitroglycerine across South America. On a massive collective hangover. Bold.

Why So Scary: It's just relentlessly, brutally tense. By the end of this one you'll have lost a few pounds in sweat!

The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

The Moment: Kindly Uncle Bilbo asks Frodo if he might hold the ring just one last time. When Frodo refuses, something rather unpleasant manifests itself in the old man's face…

Why So Scary: Bilbo's brief transformation is a nifty way of stressing the power of the ring while also delivering a very effective scare. It still sets us on edge when we know this bit is coming up...

Snow White & The Seven Dwarves (1937)

The Moment: Snow White stumbles into the enchanted forest, where the various ghouls, ghosts and beasties within do their level best to scare her into an early grave.

Why So Scary:
It's an extremely dark sequence that will have provoked more than a few nightmares for its young audience and their long suffering parents. Far, far scarier than the corresponding scene in Snow White And The Huntsman .

Oliver! (1968)

The Moment: Bill Sikes makes his grand entrance, shuffling out of a dimly lit alleyway in order to complete a deal with Fagin. Throughout the entirety of the transaction he utters not a single word, but the menace he exudes is impossible to ignore.

Why So Scary:
Oliver Reed plays Sikes as the brooding thug originally laid out on paper by Charles Dickens. Scowling, dead-eyed and violent, he's an extremely intimidating figure.

Goodfellas (1990)

The Moment: Tommy loses his sense of humour when Henry describes him as "funny". Cue much frenzied back-pedalling from the latter as Tommy contrives to take offence to everything he comes out with.

Why So Scary:
If Joe Pesci has ever been more intimidating than he is here, we've yet to witness it. "Funny, how?"

Mickey And The Beanstalk (1947)

The Moment: Mickey, Donald and Goofy are living through a depression (average Disney storyline there), and have very little food left to eat. They're battling through it until Donald suddenly loses his shit, grabs an axe and proceeds to smash the place up! Settle down old boy. Things will pick up…

Why So Scary: There's a reason why this is the only Disney cartoon to feature a crazed Donald attempting to butcher his pet cow in a hunger-inspired freak-out. It's bloody scary.

Se7en (1995)

The Moment: Mills and Somerset discover the corpse of the sloth victim, a desperately emaciated cadaver chained to a filthy bed. Except he isn't quite dead yet, is he? Yikes!

Why So Scary: The old "dead body that's not actually dead" trick is an old one, but in this example, the body's hideous appearance adds another dimension. He looks like a zombie, so no wonder he comes back from the dead!

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

The Moment: Large Marge is busy telling Pee-Wee her tale of woe, when all of a sudden her eyes burst out of her head in a moment of unadulterated claymation terror. Horrible stuff!

Why So Scary: It comes right out of leftfield and scares the living shit out of us. As does Pee-Wee, but for different reasons.

Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom (1984)

The Moment: Mola Ram performs his party trick for the first time, wrenching the heart clean out of the chest of one of his victims as part of a grisly sacrificial rite in the depths of the Thuggee temple.

Why So Scary: For a family-friendly adventure romp, seeing a man have his heart ripped out is surprisingly visceral!

Night Of The Hunter (1955)

The Moment: Having made their escape via a bizarrely pastoral riverboat scene, our two runaway children bed down in a barn for the night, only to spot the demonic preacher silhouetted on the horizon, singing as lustily as ever.

Why So Scary:
Robert Mitchum's hunter is every bit as indefatigable as the Terminator and twice as scary. As one of his young charges remarks, "don't he never sleep?"


George is GR's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it.
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