The 5 Scariest Things That Have Ever Happened In Movies

December 18, 2021

Written by Ella Rebecca Horton

Ella Rebecca has been in love with the horror genre since an early age. The Bride of Frankenstein began her love of the classics and she's been writing and collecting since.



One thing’s for sure: There’s been no shortage of horror films over the years. Indeed, it’s extraordinary to think that the project widely regarded as the first-ever “horror” film was a three-minute short recorded in 1896! Le Manoir du Diable (or The House of the Devil as it was known across America) was crafted by George Méliès. And as Far Out Magazine alluded to looking into the film’s history, its reputation stems largely from its having the first scene depicting the transformation of a man into a bat –– the first vampire scene.



Perhaps it’s not overly frightening to watch now, but it certainly highlights the power of a scene (as well as how far the horror genre has come in terms of special effects and blood-curdling storylines!).

Thinking of the genre in these terms –– of iconic scary scenes, that is –– it’s awfully difficult to narrow things down. But we’ve put together a list of worthy moments that can be considered among the most frightening pieces of work to come out of the movies over the years.

1. IT – The Storm Drain

This is easily one of the most terrifying opening scenes to a scary movie. Even if you haven’t seen the film, you’re likely to have heard of the storm drain scene in IT. In the most recent adaptation of the 1986 Stephen King novel, viewers watch six-year-old Georgie chasing his paper boat, which is rapidly heading toward a storm drain amidst a torrential downpour. So soon into the movie, one would expect that we’d then be treated to just a hint of what’s to come. But in fact, we get it full blast (the unexpected quality of the scene is part of what makes it so scary). Little Georgie’s boat drops into the drain, and as he attempts to retrieve it, he’s met by the evil Pennywise… and we all know the rest.


2. Psycho–Shower Scene

We couldn’t not include this iconic 1960s Hitchcock horror moment wherein Janet Leigh is stabbed to death while showering. It’s a scene that lasts less than a minute, but which can properly be described as unforgettable. Indeed, these very well-known and unnerving 45 seconds topped a Gala Spins poll of the scariest moments in horror history not so long ago –– which speaks to just how much staying power the film (and the specific scene) has. It’s the voyeuristic and shocking manner of death that really gets under your skin here. And if you’ve made a habit of never turning your back in the shower ever since you first saw this film, you’re not alone.


3. The Blair Witch Project – Final Scene

This cleverly created psychological thriller stunned viewers with its low-budget, documentary-style engineering. It was an approach none of us had experienced before, which lead to confusion as to whether it was actually real or not; even the actors kept a low profile to maintain the illusion that they’d gone missing. It was a risk… but one that paid off when the film grossed an incredible $250 million at the box office. Filmed using only camcorders, much of The Blair Witch Project’s footage remains unseen –– something we examined in a previous article. This raises the question of whether there’s more to come. But even as it exists now, the film contains some of the most horrifying moments in cinematic history. In particular, the ending, though not full of guts and gore, is most definitely mentally terrifying. To this day, there is speculation as to what actually happened to the three missing amateur filmmakers involved.


4. Rosemary’s Baby – The Conception

This classic 1968 film is still as horrifying today as it was more than 50 years ago. Roman Polanksi managed to create, quite perfectly, an undercurrent of impending danger beneath an otherwise (seemingly) normal storyline. The conception scene in which actress Mia Farrow is raped and impregnated by a demonic presence is particularly terrifying. The viewer is subjected to a sudden and unexpected nightmare, made all the more ghastly by the accompaniment of disturbing music and imagery –– all of which more than earns the scene a place on our list.


5. Alien – Chestburster

Also, still up there as a monumental moment in horror history, is the scene from Alien when the creature bursts through the chest of John Hurt. This petrifying brutal and bloody spectacle was intricately planned and executed by director Ridley Scott –– and amazingly, all captured in a single take. The story behind the making of this iconic scene was explored by Den Of Geek, which revealed that a lot of the effects were kept from the actors in order to achieve a genuine sense of shock. It’s a true blood and guts moment that anyone who’s seen the film will remember forever.


It’s not the easiest of lists to produce considering the thousands of exceptional horror movie scenes to choose from. But we hope you agree our picks are right up there as some of the scariest moments in horror history.


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