50 Scariest Moments In Non-Horror Movies

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

The Moment: Patrick and some of the younger members of his cult have been caught breaking and entering the house of an affluent stranger. A horribly tense standoff ensues, followed by what appears to be a peaceful retreat. However, appearances can be deceiving…

Why So Scary: We could have included much of the second half of this woozily creepy thriller, but the moment at which the homeowner meets his sudden demise delivers a shock of sizeable proportions.

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Moment: Gotham's TV news broadcasts a home video from The Joker, in which he taunts and teases a Batman impersonator. When he instructs the poor guy to, "LOOK AT ME", you know he isn't kidding around.

Why So Scary: Famously, this scene was the first time Michael Caine had witnessed Heath Ledger's performance as Joker. The look of discomfort on his face throughout, is entirely genuine.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

The Moment: The camera homes in on the horrifying image of the murderous Bob crouched behind the dresser of poor Laura Palmer. Enough to make you jump clean out of your skin, just as he was in the TV series.

Why So Scary: Bob's sudden appearance is the point at which this one tips from psychological thriller into fully-blown nightmare.

King Kong (2005)

The Moment: Andy Serkis and some of the rest of the crew find themselves beleaguered by a plague of grotesquely outsized insects. If you've any kind of disliking for creepy crawlies, this scene is not for you…

Why So Scary:
Probably the most skin-crawlingly disgusting scene on the list, it's all we can do not to fast-forward through this one. Particularly when Serkis meets his horrifying end.

Arlington Road (1999)

The Moment: Brooke makes a frantic phone call to Michael telling him she think's there's something in his suspicions about Oliver. Hanging up in a panic, she turns round only to find Cheryl standing right behind her. Surprise!

Why So Scary: A shameless jump scare of the most basic kind, but even so, it works like a charm. The fact that Brooke is the one obscuring Cheryl's presence is what makes it so unexpected. It's an unusual take on a very hoary old device.

A Room For Romeo Brass (1999)

The Moment: The simple-minded Morell is pushed just that little bit too far by the taunts of his ten-year-old pals, and loses control in spectacularly shocking style. Talk about a total meltdown…

Why So Scary: The fact that his violent outburst comes seemingly out of nowhere makes it all the more terrifying. And since the audience has spent the whole film chuckling along at Morell, they too are complicit in the horror.

The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

The Moment: The Wicked Witch decides she's had enough of Dorothy and her pals and dispatches an army of flying monkeys to capture them. That's right… flying monkeys. Gadzooks!

Why So Scary: Everybody loves a friendly chimp, but cover him in blue paint and slap a pair of wings on him and Coco doesn't seem quite so cuddly.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

The Moment: As Jem and Scout walk home through the woods after their school play, they fancy they can hear footsteps behind them. Quickening their pace as the wind begins to howl, they become increasingly aware that they aren't alone…

Why So Scary:
When the attack finally comes, it's made all the more disorientating thanks to Scout getting stuck in her costume. Thank goodness for Boo Radley, eh?

The Machinist (2004)

The Moment: Trevor takes little Nicholas on a ghost train named Route 666. However, the scares inside are of a more adult nature than one might expect, with hanged corpses, severed limbs and grieving women all present and correct.

Why So Scary: As the ride gets progressively more horrible, the audience becomes dimly aware that something more sinister is at play here. Unravelling just what that might be is one of the film's principle pleasures.

Body Double (1984)

The Moment: Jake Scully sits down at his window to enjoy a kinky striptease from a girl in the flat opposite. But hang on a minute, who's that sinister figure carrying a masonry drill? Hmm, this wasn't what you signed up for, was it Jake?

Why So Scary: The dawning realisation of what's about to happen here is every bit as scary as the actual murder itself. Although that's pretty nasty too.

George Wales

George was once GamesRadar's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it. But now he's working at Stylist Magazine.