50 Scariest Horror Moments Ever

Have you voted for your favourite horror movie villain yet?

50 WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU
THE MOVING BEDSHEETS

Precisely how this 42-minute, monochrome 1968 TV movie manages to induce a change of underwear, we’re not entirely sure. It stars Michael “Paddington” Hordern, for heaven’s sake! Horden plays a professor who chances upon a whistle in an ancient Templar burial ground. After suffering a series of nightmares, the crunch comes one night when something appears to be writhing around beneath the sheets of the empty bed next to him. It’s the most basic scare in the book – a ghost in a white sheet, but it’s utterly chilling.

49 THE FOG
MRS KOBRITZ BUYS IT

Has Mrs Kobritz never seen a horror movie? If there’s a slow, heavy knock on your front door, ignore it. Especially if you’re in the middle of a power-cut and there’s a load of eerily glowing fog outside. But no – Mrs Kobritz opens the door. No-one there. She tells young Andy to go to his room. As he reluctantly obeys, director John Carpenter pulls off a masterful piece of misdirection. We’re looking at Andy in the foreground, when WHAM! One of the spectral pirates emerges from the fog behind his babysitter and grabs her. Off she goes into a ‘right pea souper’, followed by two other spirits with big sharp objects. Ouch.

48 NOSFERATU
THE SHADOW ON THE STAIRWAY

It’s ironic that most people’s exposure to this scene will have come from one of its many parodies/homages/lampoons. It’s more likely you’ll have seen pastiches of vampyr Count Orlock’s shadow gliding up a rickety staircase in ads, pop videos and comedies rather than director FW Murnau’s 1922 black and white masterpiece from which it originates. So, sadly, it’s a moment that’s more likely to evoke guffaws than shivers. But set aside all prejudices, watch the film in its entirety in a darkened room, and suddenly the almost primal power of this scene oozes as eerily as ever from the screen. And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it…?

47 THE DEAD ZONE
NUCLEAR WAR VISION

Nowadays we’re used to the idea of Martin Sheen as the kind of warm, liberal US President who we and Michael Moore would love to see oust Dubya. But this isn’t The West Wing, this is The Dead Zone, and in 1983 he was playing an entirely different kind of President. In this scene towards the end of the film, the ESP-blessed Johnny Smith shakes hands with Senator Stillson and sees an image of what would happen if he was to be elected. Flash-forward and we’re on the verge of nuclear war. “This is my destiny!” he cries as he presses the dreaded red button. Even in a post-Cold War world this still has the power to chill you to the bone. Especially when George W is in the White House.

46 HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR
BLOODY BIRTHDAY PARTY

Amityville is relocated to the London suburbs in the episode “The House That Bled To Death”, in which a family move into a house which was once the site of a brutal murder... It’s little Sophie’s birthday, so she’s invited all her little friends round for a party. The kids sit down at the dinner table to enjoy all the traditional birthday fare: jelly, jaffa cakes, beakers of orange juice... and lashings of lovely blood; for as the giggling kiddies tuck in, a pipe splits away from the wall and slowly swings out over their heads. There’s a deathly pause as everyone looks up, before a torrent of blood spurts out of the pipe, showering the screaming sprogs in sticky warm stuff...

45 A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
FREDDY’S LONG ARMS

In this sequence, early on in the first movie, we haven’t even seen Freddy Krueger’s face yet. All we know of this lurking bogeyman is his blade-fingered glove and his deep, malevolent voice. Tina’s having a nightmare in which she explores the house’s backyard. Cue Freddy, the child-slaying Bastard Son Of 100 Maniacs. Extending his arms to a length that would assure him a place between the sticks in any football team, Krueger advances, painfully scraping his blade along a corrugated iron wall. “Please God…” breathes Tina, prompting Freddy to raise one deadly glove. “This,” he grins, “is God.” Splat.

44 ROSEMARY’S BABY

“HE HAS HIS FATHER'S EYES”

Mia Farrow raped by the Devil. That’s the premise behind this fabulously spooky adaptation of Ira Levin’s acclaimed novel. The story so far: Mia’s husband has secretly done a deal with their neighbours (who are Satan-worshippers) in order to get his career going and the deal involves his wife giving birth to the Anti-Christ. So, once Mia’s little one is born she is ushered in to see it for the first time. “Aw, he has his father’s eyes,” gushes one of the surrounding hordes
as Mia sets eyes on her newborn child and screams with terror. And we don’t get to see a thing…

43 HELLRAISER

FRANK’S RESURRECTION

Did you know that household accidents can resurrect the dead? Larry Cotton soon discovers that after snagging his hand on a nail. Blood drips down onto the floorboards, beneath which the skeleton of his half-brother Frank is hibernating. Absorbing the red stuff, Frank slowly rises through the floor in a decidedly icky sequence, done with good old ‘80s latex and jello. “It’s very much of its period,” writer-director Clive Barker said. “I suppose now you’d do it with CGI, but I’m not convinced it would be better. Actually, that scene was not in my original script. We only filmed it after the film company gave us some more money to enhance the movie.”

42 THE BIRDS

THE CLIMBING FRAME

Tippi Hedren's character has a sly fag outside the local whilst she waits to collect a little girl from school. Behind her, a flock of crows gradually gathers on the climbing frame in the playground, as if they know that the children will soon be coming out to play... Scriptwriter Evan Hunter recalled "This scene was shot as I wrote it. I wanted to get the contrast between the innocence of the children's voices in the background and the malevolence of the birds. We have already seen the birthday party attacked and we know that the birds are dangerous... So when they start to mass we know there will be trouble. It was beautifully shot to build the audience's apprehension."

41 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

THE LITTLE GIRL ZOMBIE

Trapped in a house besieged by zombies, mother Helen Cooper (Marilyn Eastman) goes down into the basement, only to discover her daughter Karen munching on her dead husband’s arm. Backing away in horror as her undead daughter lurches forward, she trips and falls. The little girl picks a pointy-edged trowel off the wall and repeatedly stabs Mommy to death. Little Karen was played by nine year-old Kyra Schon, the daughter of Karl Hardman, co-producer of the film and also her on-screen dad. She recalls, “The arm goo was someone’s leftover meatball sandwich from lunch. They poured some Bosco [chocolate syrup] on it to make it look bloody.”

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