Another Top 10 Opening Scenes in Horror Movies

Written by Telly Vlachakis

The opening scenes of horror movies that were designed to have audiences terrified from the very beginning. WatchMojo presents Another Top 10 Opening Scenes from Horror Movies. But which scene will take the top spot on our list, will it be from Night of the Living Dead, Twilight Zone: The Movie, or When a Stranger Calls? Watch to find out!

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Memorable and chilling intros win the race. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for Another Top 10 Horror Movie Opening Scenes.

For this list, we’re looking at more inventive, frightening, and throat-grabbing first scenes from classic horror films. If you are wondering where Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers are, be sure to check out our first top ten list of horror movie opening scenes.

#10: Don’t Mess with a Gypsy
“Drag Me to Hell” (2009)

The opening scene from Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell” is a perfect example of setting up the audience’s expectation and the mood of the film. A family brings their son to a medium because he has been hearing demonic voices. We soon find out that this is because he stole from a gypsy, and in a matter of seconds, the ground opens up to swallow him into Hell. Although at its core, it’s a horror film about gypsy curses and demons, “Drag Me to Hell” is also a pure romp and a twisted fun-house thrill ride. Therefore the opening scene, with the mostly unrelated story set in 1969, simply lets us know what we signed up for.

#9: Home Invasion
“You’re Next” (2011)

Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett know horror movies. They are quickly becoming the new faces of horror, having been responsible for breaking the mold on many projects in the last few years. “You’re Next” is no different - a film that seems, on the surface, to be a typical slasher/home invasion film. However, this genre-bender was made for the fans. The simple opening of the film features a couple in a secluded home being stalked and slaughtered by someone. Although we know we have seen this a million times before, something in the cinematography and pacing warn us that this is not your typical masked-killer film. Extra points for fans that recognize acclaimed horror actor/director Larry Fessenden as the first victim.

#8: Not Your Usual Club Scene
“The Collection” (2012)

Setting up torture traps has become common in horror movies in the early 21st century. However, sometimes their scope and magnitude are enough to shock us and give us something we have never seen. The opening to this horror sequel shows Elena and her teenage friends visit a secret underground party. We will soon find out why it is so secret. The collector seems to have planned this entire night in order to rack up a large number of victims. When Elena stumbles upon a hurt Arkin O'Brien, this sets up a terrible sequence that leaves the entire dance floor mowed down by a device resembling a giant lawnmower, and Elena kidnapped by the collector.

#7: Keep Them Burning
“Trick ‘r Treat” (2007)

“Trick ‘r Treat” was the surprise horror hit of 2007, and became a cult favorite as well as one of the best anthology films the genre has given us. The opening story of the film had double duty as being the first tale in the anthology, and also being the introduction to the connecting thread between these stories. Emma is your usual Halloween grump, who just wants the night to be over. She prematurely blows out the jack-o'-lantern, despite her husband’s warnings. What follows is an expertly paced sequence of false scares and mounting tension, with what seems like some inspiration from John Carpenter’s “Halloween” thrown in for good measure. One thing’s for sure: you don’t mess with tradition.

#6: Family Drama
“The Stepfather” (1987)

Horror fans are used to seeing the chaos and the killings on screen. The unsettling thing of watching the beginning of the classic ‘80s chiller “The Stepfather” is that we are thrust right into the end of the chaos, without even knowing it. Henry Morrison calmly gets ready in his bathroom. Changes his clothes, takes a shower, washes off the blood; the usual morning ritual. We can tell something is wrong, but we do not fully find out until its great reveal, as Henry walks by his butchered family, and steps out of the house. We know the story is just getting started, and that he’ll move on to his next victims very soon, but his ice-cold demeanor is unforgettable.

#5: Day at the Beach
“It Follows” (2014)

In the early 21st century, it seems that horror movies have been aiming for the jugular, with jump scares and violence galore. “It Follows” became an instant classic for going against the grain, and deciding on an unsettling tone from the moment the movie begins. As a worried girl is looking for an escape and runs away from her house, we have no idea what or who may be chasing her. The serene, quiet settings of the beach and the suburban street, and the minimal music, makes this disheveled girl’s terror even more palpable. It’s the feeling of knowing something is wrong, and not being able to help. The sudden reveal of the girl’s demise, devoid of any jump-scare music or screams, is beyond heartbreaking and disturbing.

#4: Fire Safety
“Evil Dead” (2013)

Although the original “Evil Dead” is a classic horror film, it did not have a very memorable opening, with the gang simply driving to the doomed cabin. When Fede Alvarez was tasked to reboot it, he knew he had to step it up. In his film, he goes back a few years, and offers audiences a prologue in order to give us a glimpse of the Necronomicon and the power these demons have. We are witness to a brutal attack, capture, and torture of a young girl, as she’s tied up and doused with gasoline. Just when we think these monsters are killing an innocent girl, her true demonic face is revealed, spewing threats and profanities at her poor father.

#3: Roadside Assistance
“Twilight Zone: The Movie” (1983)

Our second anthology film opens with a prologue that is not only deliciously meta, but also seems quite out of place at first. “The Twilight Zone” TV show was known for being quite creepy and disturbing. As we watch comedy legends Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd on a road trip, playing trivia games and singing along to classic rock tunes, we easily forget we’re in a “Twilight Zone” film, let alone a sci-fi/horror film. Trying to kill some time, and sharing their favorite episodes of the classic anthology series, Aykroyd turns to his driver and utters the classic words, “Do you wanna see something really scary?” This smooth road trip immediately turns violent, and we are quickly thrust into familiar “Twilight Zone” territory.

#2: Have You Checked the Children?
“When a Stranger Calls” (1979)

Now here’s a thriller that wastes absolutely no time. “When a Stranger Calls” features a young Carol Kane as a student who is hired as a babysitter one night. She’s left alone in a big house, the children are asleep upstairs, and of course she starts getting some very creepy phone calls. The set-up takes only a couple minutes before the voice on the other end keeps calling, asking the vulnerable babysitter if she has checked on the children. The long opening scene and its shocking reveal build up the tension to one of the most gruesomely realistic horror films of the late ‘70s, brutally depicting every babysitter’s biggest fear…. and the fear of anyone who is ever home alone for that matter.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Premonition
“Final Destination” (2000)

“Stab” Franchise
“Scream 4” (2011)

The Amityville Horror
“The Conjuring 2” (2016)

#1: A Cemetery Stroll
“Night of the Living Dead” (1968)

Bringing you zombie classics since 1968, George A. Romero is well known as the godfather of the modern zombie movie. His low-budget gore-fest, “Night of the Living Dead,” shocked audiences not only with its terrifying premise and explicit violence, but also with the promise of what a modern horror movie can actually be. While Barbra and Johnny are on their way to visit their father’s grave, Johnny takes advantage of the cemetery setting to scare his sister. Engraving the words, “They’re coming to get you, Barbra,” in the minds of film fans, Johnny’s plans to scare his sister quickly turn sour when he’s attacked and killed by the roaming undead. Luckily Barbra escapes, but this isn’t the last we’ll see of Johnny…

Agree with our list? Any other horror openings stuck in your head? For more shocking top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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