The best opening scenes in horror movie history

Opening scenes of a horror the film often predetermines whether the overall structure of said film will end up appealing to the audience or not. If we’re being honest, viewers can actually tell within the first 10 minutes if a horror movie will be worth their time. The importance of capturing a viewer’s attention is found in the meat of an opening scene (the content, formatting, structuring, etc.); it sets the mood and tone of a movie.

Most opening scenes begin normally, with the central character (or characters) in a completely normal state of mind; at home watching TV, participating in extracurricular activities (often sex), or just popping popcorn. Starting a movie like this reminds viewers of fear in normalcy and how easily it can be shattered, setting the stage for the scares to come. A good opening horror movie scene often reminds us that in reality these characters can either be us, someone we know, or someone we love, and that feeling stays with us as we go on. to watch. In this, the filmmakers are able to use moments of suspense to draw us in. These are some of the best opening scenes in horror movie history.

6 Scream (1996)

Drew Barrymore answers the phone
Dimensional films

So no one ate the popcorn.

In one of the best opening scenes of all time, West Craven’s blockbuster ’96 Yell pays homage to the 1979 classic, When a stranger calls. Early on, we’re introduced to Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore), a suburban teenager who’s in the kitchen of her house, making popcorn. As she prepares for a night of horror movies, Casey receives a series of phone calls from a stranger that she initially mistakes for a prank.

In his continued interactions with this weird guy (who we now know to be Ghostface), he makes her realize that he knows exactly who she is, as well as the fact that he knows she’s home alone. Whether it’s quickly torturing and murdering her boyfriend Steve or giving him the chance to play a game in an attempt to save his life, Ghostface ultimately kills Casey, but that’s how he kills her. kills which is so horrible and unfathomable.

Related: How Scream Perfected The Art Of Open Cold

Once we notice Casey’s parents returning to the family home, we also see Casey within inches of approaching them, in order to signal the presence of an intruder. Already injured by Ghostface, she is unable to speak and has difficulty walking. As Ghostface grabs Casey so her parents can’t see her, he ends his pursuit and kills her. As viewers, we feel for Casey because she was so close to reaching her parents before facing her abrupt demise. Not to mention, Casey’s mother listening to her daughter take her last breath on the phone will forever be in the minds of viewers.

5 Halloween (1978)

A young Michael Myers holds a knife on Halloween
Compass International Pictures


John Carpenter Halloween is often seen as the blueprint for the modern horror movie, so it makes sense that its opening scene is the blueprint for starting a horror movie off on the right track. The film begins by taking us back to Halloween night in 1963, when a young Michael Myers brutally murders his older sister. In this fantastically executed long shot, we walk through this scene with Michael, from the villain’s point of view. While the younger version of him appears to be in a zombie-like mental state, we see him grab a knife in the kitchen, run up the stairs, place his mask over his face, and kill his sister. Without emotion, his cadence never changes from an enraged state; it is quiet from start to finish. Thus, the terrifying nature of the villain is presented from the beginning of the film.

4 When a Stranger Calls (1979)

A woman answers the phone when a stranger calls
Pictures of Colombia

“Have you checked on the kids?

Babysitting is scary enough, but pair that with an unidentified man calling to calmly ask “if you checked on the kids,” and it must send shivers down anyone’s spine. The action of home invasion movies is more than alarming because they’re so gritty and realistic, and the fact that it’s portrayed so well in the first five minutes of When a stranger calls is perfectly chilling, setting the tone for what’s to come. The thought of someone being unsafe, even in a home they know, is too much to keep the lights off.

3 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Jodie Foster as Clarice Court in The Fog of Silence of the Lambs
Pictures of Orion

Running in an isolated area has never looked scarier.

The start of Thesilenceofthelambs seems rather typical and ordinary, and that in itself is the scariest aspect of all. As Clarice (Jodie Foster) sprints through the woods, in a setting that seems like a daily morning run, the choice of musical score, the close camera angles and the foggy surroundings leave the viewer wondering what could possibly happen. then. The opening’s thematic perfection is also particularly important, as Jonathan Demme’s film is largely about Clarice running headlong toward work in an effort to escape her own personal nightmares. In this prime example of ’90s film music doing the heavy lifting, the shift from subtlety to more theatrical escalation lets viewers know they’re on high alert.

2 Jaws (1975)

A woman struggles in the water at Jaws
Universal images

Chrissy, what are you doing?

As humans, we evolved away from the ocean without gills, so we should probably stick to land; moreover, from the looks of this film, the sea creatures are more than tired of us invading their space. The classic Steven Spielberg movie Jaws rocked audience members from the start of the image. Jaws managed to scare people, not only from sharks, but from the water itself. The generally creepy aspect of the opener isn’t just Chrissy’s disappearance, but the build-up from the shark’s angle combined with John Williams’ classic minimalist score. As viewers are strategically placed underwater (through a series of camera angles), we see Chrissy floating on the surface as the shark heads towards her. It’s terrifying because we all know what’s next is inevitable.

Related: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movies: How To Watch In Release Date Order

1 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Dead bodies on a headstone in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Bryanston Distribution Company

Casually hanging out on a tombstone, nothing to see here folks.

It would probably be an honest statement if someone said they had never been so disturbed in life as watching the opening scene of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Before the film begins, we are taken to a black screen, with a narrator (John Larroquette) conveying to the audience the importance of the overall plot. Using an “extracted from the title” documentary-style approach, which still has people asking today if The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was real, the opening sets the gritty, realistic ground for what’s to come.

We are immediately exposed to a series of still images and flashing lights, where there appear to be lifeless body parts of a corpse, before moving on to an incredible viasua of tableaus of a corpse propped up on a headstone. , holding the corpse of a child as the camera takes a very slow zoom. From a unique vantage point, it feels as though viewers are immersed in a hostile and terrifying environment, and the fear barely lets up after this masterpiece of an opening scene.


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