From 'Scream' to 'The Conjuring': The 10 Scariest Horror Movie Opening Scenes of All Time – Collider

These horror movies let you know what they’re about in the first few minutes.
The opening scene of a horror movie is arguably the most important section of the entire film. It sets the tone for what is to come, often warning audiences of just how brutal, twisted, or tense the film they're about to watch will be. It is also the perfect chance to introduce audiences to the villain in the most frightening and memorable way possible.
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The biggest horror fans will often judge the entire film on the first few minutes, prompting filmmakers to ensure the opening scene is one of the best of the entire movie.
No horror movie opening scene is more iconic than Casey's (Drew Barrymore) shocking and violent death scene. Scream opens with Casey home alone, making popcorn, when she is interrupted by a ringing phone. After a brief conversation about scary movies, the voice on the phone reveals his sinister intentions and kills Casey's boyfriend.
We then get our first glimpse at the iconic Ghostface costume as the masked villain terrorizes Casey before finally killing her and hanging her from a tree. The hotly-anticipated Scream 6 will have to pull something monumental out of the bag to top this one.
The Conjuring's opening scene is genius not only because it immediately terrifies the audience and introduces them to the supernatural world of the Warrens, but it also teases a spin-off set in The Conjuring universe. And let's be honest, Annabelle is easily the freakiest doll ever seen in cinema.
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The opening scene tells the story of how the Warrens came into possession of the haunted doll, featuring a terrific jump scare, a chill-inducing score, and a firm warning of just how terrifying the film you're about to watch is. No wonder The Conjuring universe is still thriving.
A Quiet Place was a near-perfect horror film. It was original and tense, with interesting family dynamics and excellent performances across the board. If we had one small complaint, it's that we would have loved to see the carnage unfold on the day that the creatures first arrived on earth.
Enter A Quiet Place Part II, which shows the chaos of that first day in one of the most nail-biting opening scenes of recent memory. Lives are lost by the second, and various inventive shots put the audience in the center, watching helplessly as the town is torn apart in front of us. Hopefully, we'll see more of this carnage in the upcoming spin-off A Quiet Place: Day One.
He may look like a sweet little kid, but Michael Myers is anything but. At just six years old, the future serial killer stole a knife from the kitchen and, without hesitation, butchers his own sister. For the town of Haddonfield, nothing was the same after that.
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The simplicity of the shot, which is filmed entirely in Michael's POV, puts the audience in the little boy's shoes as he slays his sister in cold blood. The opening scene sets up everything to come in Halloween, a slasher film heavy on blood and gore without the pretense of fancy cinematography or locations.
It's crazy to think that before the release of Get Out in 2017, Jordan Peele was known for his comedic talent and incredible wit. The opening scene of his game-changing horror film put that association to bed. Instead, he quickly became known as the modern master of horror.
The opening scene foreshadows the plot, following a young Black man as he is stalked mercilessly through a street. The use of "Run Rabbit Run" as a chilling song works perfectly, creating a staggering amount of tension.
If you've ever read Stephen King's bulky yet haunting novel or seen the 1990 adaptation starring Tim Curry, you knew that It: Chapter One would begin with the tragic death of Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott) at the hands of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard).
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During a storm, young Georgie heads out to the street to play with a paper boat that his older brother Bill has made for him. The ship eventually disappears into a sewer grate and, unfortunately for Georgie, finds its way to the murderous clown. After a brief, sinister talk, the clown lures Georgie to reach into the grate and uses his teeth to tear his arm from his body.
Jaws' opening scene is one of the most memorable and iconic of all time. Chrissie (Susan Backlinie), a young woman looking for a good time, gets more than she bargained for when she skinny-dips in the ocean.
We may not see the shark tearing her to pieces, but Steven Spielberg's subtle implication in the iconic POV shot, and the terror etched into Chrissie's face terrifies audiences to this day. There's nothing scarier than the unknown, and this scene is proof of it. No wonder it took the world so long to go back into the water.
The first scene in It Follows is unlike any other. Rather than putting the terror front and center, It Follows only shows a terrified young woman running for her life, desperately looking back over her shoulder at a seemingly empty street. This girl running for her life will be dead before the three-minute mark, with audiences none the wiser as to what sealed her fate.
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The rest of the film follows suit too. The fear and tension come not in what is seen on the screen but in what is absent from it. The opening scene is a refreshing change and ensures the independent horror film stands out among similarly budgeted horror films.
Each entry in the Final Destination franchise begins in roughly the same way. After experiencing a premonition of disaster and death, a group of people narrowly escape with their lives. These sequences are all gory, violent, and chaotic, but none are as effective and thrilling as the multi-car pile-up in Final Destination 2.
We see various drivers going about their business unaware of what is about to happen, suitably building the tension and anticipation of what's about to happen. The upcoming Final Destination 6 certainly has a lot to live up to.
The Ring was a hit in every definition of the word. Not only did it thrill critics and audiences alike, but it also grossed a very respectable $250 million at the global box office. The opening scene is a masterclass in tension, consisting of nothing more than a TV that won't turn off, a terrified expression, and a collection of empty rooms.
With no idea of the rules of the film yet, audiences are lost in the scene. Expecting a scare around every corner without understanding who or what they need to fear. As a sign of things to come, The Ring's opening scene promises tension, fear, and a director at the top of his game.
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Michael Walsh is a graduate of the Northern Film school and spends his spare time watching and writing films and TV. Mike lives in Rochdale, England
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