Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes


Greatest and Scariest Film Scenes
Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description

Pacific Heights (1990)


The scene of psychotic tenant Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton) confronting new landlord Patty Palmer (Melanie Griffith).

Paranormal Activity (2009)

This breakout independent horror film hit of the year from Paramount and writer/director Oren Peli was budgeted at only $15,000 and filmed in 2007 in only ten days. It was first shown in limited release, in college towns at midnight shows, and came into wide release in 2009 with a successful social-media viral marketing campaign. The suspenseful 'bump in the night' minimalist thriller (completely bloodless) was filmed as a faux-documentary, combining elements of The Blair Witch Project (1999), Open Water (2003) and The Exorcist (1973).

The scariest scenes involved the late-night inexplicable incidents over a three-week period that occurred in a two-story suburban San Diego house of a young couple, day-trading Micah (Micah Sloat) and his teacher-girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston). With clueless bravado, Micah used a night-vision video camcorder set on a tripod to document the menacing forces in their bedroom and the entire house. Dread and anticipation of what might happen next provided most of the terror. There were also running faucets, squeaky doors, flickering lights, footsteps on the stairs, shadows, thump noises, scratching sounds, incoherent whisperings, a possessed Ouija board, footprints traced with talcum powder, a smashed picture of the two of them (hanging in the hallway), and a malevolent, demonic force that tormented Katie. About the broken glass, Micah asked: "How come my face is scratched and yours isn't?" as Katie felt its spooky presence: "I feel it breathing on me."

The main view of the "found footage" was mostly a slightly wide-angle shot of their bedroom, showing the bed, and the open doorway and hall beyond. Sinister hauntings increased when Katie, on Night # 20 (October 7th, 2006 at 4:32 am) was suddenly dragged from the bed and down the hallway in the middle of the night. Soon after, the two discovered a massive red bite mark on her back. At times, she would sleep-walk in the middle of the night and stand motionless and trance-like by the side of the bed.

And in the abrupt, surprise-jolt ending, after a two hour stance at the bedside, Katie walked downstairs, then screamed out Micah's name to come to her aid. He rushed to her and sounds of a struggle were heard. Katie carried his dead body up the stairs and hurled it at the camera, dislodging it. Wearing a blood-stained shirt, she came into the room, sniffed at Micah's body on the floor, and stiffly looked into the camera lens. She growled-smiled at the camera - and then lunged at it as her face mutated into a demon. The film cut to black. An epilogue note stated: Micah's body was discovered by police on October 11th, 2006. Katie's whereabouts remain unknown.

Two sequels included a prequel Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) and Paranormal Activity 3 (2011).

Peeping Tom (1960, UK)


The chilling voyeuristic scenes of Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm), a shy studio cameraman (and psychopathic serial killer) who filmed call girls and then killed them with the sharp spiked leg of his hand-held camera tripod (with a mirror attached so that victims could watch themselves dying).

In the opening credits sequence, Mark watched (through his cross-haired viewfinder) as he stalked and filmed the murder of a prostitute he met on a dark London street.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

The scene of Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) hitchhiking in the desert and his startling and hysterical encounter with trucker Large Marge (Alice Nunn) - who was transformed into a bug-eyed ghostly victim of a horrendous auto accident

Pet Sematary (1989)


The first hint of resuscitation of the dead in a pet sematary (Indian burial ground) near a busy highway filled with trucks, when the Creed family's dead cat named Church was resurrected as undead - with a foul stench and glowing eyes; and the 'rebirth' of a grotesque corpse of patient Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist) - a college student and highway accident victim with a nasty head injury; later, toddler Gage Creed (Miko Hughes), after a truck tragically killed him on the highway, was transformed into an evil undead, soul-less stalker who murdered people with a sharp surgical scalpel (neighbor Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) and his mother Rachel (Denise Crosby)); also the character of emaciated, terminally-ill and crippled Zelda Goldman (Andrew Hubatsek) who was kept bedridden in a back bedroom for her entire life until her death from spinal meningitis - Zelda continually haunted her sister Rachel with threats of: "I'll break your back!" and "You'll never walk again! NEVER WALK AGAIN!"; in a scary scene, Rachel described how Zelda was "a dirty secret...We wanted her to die. We wished for her to be dead. It wasn't just so she wouldn't feel any more pain. It was so we wouldn't feel any more pain. It was because she was starting to look like this monster" - and she told about the night that Zelda died when she was caring for her as an 8 year-old (Elizabeth Ureneck as child): "She started to convulse and I thought, 'Oh my god, she's choking'"; Rachel also told how she was worried that her parents would come home and blame her for choking her sister - since she wasn't seen crying afterwards, but laughing; in the film's haunting climax, Rachel was killed by Gage and buried in the pet sematary by her husband Louis (Dale Midkiff), but then his bloodied and dirtied undead wife (moaning "Darling") entered the kitchen where he was playing cards - he unwisely kissed her - she was about to murder him with a long knife when the credits began to roll

Phantasm (1979)


The character of menacing, disturbing Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) who haunted a young boy and his friends with a flying metal ball that had deadly spring-loaded blades

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)


The frightening, eerie moment that the mad Erik (Lon Chaney, Sr.), the horribly disfigured phantom of the opera, was unmasked and showed his "accursed ugliness" to Christine Daae (Mary Philbin), a soprano understudy at the Paris Opera; his grotesque face with artfully-applied makeup showed round, darkened eyes, jagged decayed teeth, flaring nostrils, and a corpse-like visage

Pinocchio (1940)

The scary Pleasure Island sequence in which bad boys (who smoked and drank), such as Lampwick, sprouted donkey ears, hooves and a tail, brayed like a donkey - and frantically cried out for their Mommas - and were ultimately sold to the salt mines; also the sequence involving Monstro the Whale

Piranha (2010)

Director Alexandre Aja's R-rated exploitative action thriller (with lots of bloody violence, horror and terror), available also in 3D, was a reworking or reimagining of Joe Dante's original cult horror film Piranha (1978). It told of the town of Lake Victoria which expanded in size during spring break (filmed at Lake Havasu, AZ), when 20,000 drunken revelers arrived in huge numbers for sun, sex and carousing.

An underwater tremor ("heavy seismic activity") caused pre-historic man-eating, razor-toothed fish to erupt from a subterranean lake and cause havoc amongst the town's inhabitants, including the coeds. Although the film was basically an excuse to show lots of 3D boobs and naked carnage, it also had some genuine scares regarding the ravenous fish that hunted in packs and were considered "killing machines."

When Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) was investigating a drifting rowboat at night and a missing fisherman named Matthew Boyd (Richard Dreyfuss in a cameo), and the rotten wooden pier caved in, a decomposed or mutilated body popped up next to her in the water. There were numerous underwater POV shots of fiercesome, razor-toothed piranha swimming toward prey, gigantic close-ups of the red-eyed, blood-seeking fish, and an ominous attack of fish on a USGS scuba-diver that left him as a devoured carcass.

A well-endowed parasailing female (Gianna Michaels), who lost her top, had her legs chewed off at the conclusion of her ride. Ignoring warnings, the first coed to be bitten by the pack of piranhas during the wet T-shirt contest (advertised as "DYING TO GET WET") was a female sitting in a round flotation device. Scores of others were bitten as the water deepened red in color. There was a mad scramble to evacuate from the water - but with the weight of extra bodies unbalancing the floating stage, it began to tip over.

A snapped cable from the stage severed the bodies of two blue bikini-clad cheerleaders (Ashlynn Brooke on the left). They watched in horror as their bodies fell apart in sections (one severed top with silicone breasts fell into the water and sank).

Cheerleaders' Deaths - Boobs and Gore

The sleazy emcee was rewarded with cranial explosion and decapitation when crushed by a passing boat motor, splattered onto a nearby busty female. A female's (Genevieve Alexandra) hair/scalp was caught in a boat propeller and ripped off when restarted.

Gore and Death at Lake Victoria
Wet T-Shirt Host

Propeller Girl


When vulgar "Wild Wild Girls" semi-porn videographer Derrick Jones' (Jerry O'Connell) rented boat The Barracuda was caught on rocks and seaweed, the underwater viewing glass was shattered and the boat filled with water - Derrick and blonde actress Crystal (real-life porn actress Riley Steele) were thrown overboard. One of the piranhas ate through her stomach and emerged from her mouth. Derrick's legs and sex organ were viciously attacked. He moaned on deck: "They took my penis." Later, the severed organ was seen floating in the water where it was eaten by a piranha, but then regurgitated - and he soon died of blood loss. Danni was also fated to die when dangling from a rescue rope extended between two boats - the fish got ahold of her hair, and pulled and pecked at her until she fell and was devoured.

The film's late revelation from aquarium store owner Henry Goodman (Christopher Lloyd) was that the piranhas were "not fully developed" - they had "no mature reproductive organs" - "they're the babies." The biggest jump-scare came next - a massive piranha jumped out of the water and attacked dive team member/researcher Novak (Adam Scott) after he asked: "The babies. Huh. So, where are the parents?"

Parasailing Girl



Torn in Half


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

The reveal scene in which cursed 'undead' Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) explained to captive Elizabeth Swann/"Turner" (Keira Knightley): "...There is one way we can end our curse. All the scattered pieces of the Aztec gold must be restored and the blood repaid. Thanks to ye, we have the final piece. (And the blood to be repaid?") That's why there's no sense to be killin' ya, yet"; she unsuccessfully attempted to stab him in the heart and escape from his ship the Black Pearl, but was seized and forced to look at the skeletal forms of his crew of 'undead' pirates in the moonlight - as he extended his bony skeletal hand toward her, and his whole body was transformed - he warned and advised her: "You best start believin' in ghost stories, Miss Turner. You're in one!"

Play Misty for Me (1971)

The scene of seductive listener/fan and possessive, murderous psychotic stalker Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter), recently released from a mental institution, awakening all-night DJ Dave Garver (Clint Eastwood) in the middle of the night in his bedroom to the sounds of 'Misty' being played - she appeared above him with a butcher knife ready to stab him - and stabbed his pillow; by film's end, he was again lured to the crazy woman when he realized that his ex-girlfriend Tobie Williams' (Donna Mills) recently-acquired roommate was Evelyn, and she had been tied up and terrorized in a dark house as bait - in the final scary confrontation, he was attacked and badly wounded by Evelyn - after being slashed many times, he punched her in the jaw, sending her through the balcony to her death in the ocean below

Poltergeist (1982)


The early terrifying scene in which the arm branches of the gnarly tree outside a bedroom window during a thunderstorm became animated, crashed through the glass, and seized 8 year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins) from his bed - and half-devoured him before he was saved by his father Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson); also the concluding scene of distraught suburban California mother Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams) running outside into the yard for help - in the rain - and making a wrong step - she slipped into the muddy, excavated pit next to the house, dug for their swimming pool, slid down the slippery slope into the dirty water, and surfaced with skeletal faces of corpses (with silent, screaming expressions) rising behind her; also, the earlier scene of a frightening, evil-grinning, long-armed clown doll vanishing from its customary chair across the room, grabbing owner Robbie, pulling him under the bed and attempting to strangle him; or the kitchen scene of the self-stacking chairs, or the scene of young, five year old blonde nursery-schooler Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) communing with TV static and exclaiming: "They're here!"; also the scene of the ghostly apparition named The Beast emerging from the children's bedroom closet; and the ghastly scene of para-psychologist Marty (Martin Casella) spotting a left-over steak moving on its own and a turkey leg infested with maggots - and then looking into a bathroom mirror and having a morbid, hallucinatory experience - his face deteriorated as he clawed at his face and peeled back the rotting flesh with his fingers, pulling off gobs of skin down to the bone

Prince of Darkness (1987)

The recurring, chilling dreams in a grainy video broadcast transmitted from the future featuring a shadowy, menacing figure in a church, and Wyndham's (Robert Grasmere) warning while being consumed from inside by beetles (and literally having his head disintegrate): "I have a message for you, and you're not going to like it: pray for death"; also the scene of a possessed vagrant (Alice Cooper) using a bicycle frame to brutally kill an escaping scientist

The Prophecy (1995)

The scene of Lucifer's (Viggo Mortensen) revealing of himself to Katherine Henley (Virginia Madsen): "God is love. I don't love you," and to disillusioned priest-turned-police detective Thomas Daggett (Elias Koteas): "Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers. Then you would hop into bed, afraid that I was hiding under it. And I was!"

Psycho (1960)


The shocking, carefully-edited shower murder scene of Marion Crane (major star Janet Leigh) in the first third of the film (unheard of in a film at this time), by an opaque-outlined figure who whipped aside (or tore open) the curtain barrier, wielded a menacing butcher knife high in the air that repeatedly rose and fell in a machine-like fashion, as Marion vainly resisted and shielded her breasts while being savagely murdered - to the sounds of Bernard Herrmann's shrieking violins; also the scene of Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam) killed at the top of the stairs and his long fall backwards before being stabbed repeatedly; also the scene in which neurotic mama's boy Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) realized that the victim's sister Lila (Vera Miles) was snooping around in his house - with the scene of her approaching the ominous Bates house behind the motel, and her horrifying discovery of Norman's mummified mother in the fruit cellar; also, the eerie epilogue scene in a police waiting room of Norman with a grinning smile slowly creeping over his face - subliminally superimposed by and dissolving into the grinning skull of his mother's mummified corpse, as he spoke chilling words: "I'm not even gonna swat that fly. I hope they are watching..."

Public Enemy (1931)

The final horrifying scene in which once-brutal, cocky gangster Tom Powers (James Cagney) had his bandaged corpse delivered to his home - propped up like a mummy at the doorstep of his mother's (Beryl Mercer) house, with his face-first fall forward (while a scratchy phonograph record played an upbeat tune on the soundtrack)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

The violent scene of LA mob boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) being raped over a pommel horse in the basement of a pawn shop by motorcycle-riding security guard Zed (Peter Greene) and bearded brother and shop owner Maynard (Duane Whitaker) - and Butch's (Bruce Willis) intervention by killing Maynard with a sword-like katana and by Marsellus shooting Zed in the groin with a shotgun (and threatening: "I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'm gonna get Medieval on your ass"); and the scene of overdosed Marsellus' wife Mia (Uma Thurman) being injected with a long hypodermic needle (with adrenaline) directly into her breastplate and heart to help her regain consciousness

Greatest Scariest Movie Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title, illustrated)
Intro | #s-A | B | C-1 | C-2 | D-1 | D-2 | E | F | G | H
I-J | K-L | M | N-O | P | Q-R | S-1 | S-2 | S-3 | T | U-Z

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