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Top 20 Horror Movie Openings: Best First Scenes

The most effective opening scenes in horror movies.  The best first few minutes and beginnings of horror movies.  It some cases, the opening scene is the best part. In better movies, it just sets up a great tale and pulls the audience in for the kill, so to speak.  Either way, a great horror movie opening scene is essential if you want the viewers to stay tuned.


Top2040 Official Warning:  Here there might be some spoilers, but it's only the first scene of each film, so ... not excessively spoiling. You'd see these scenes anyway in the opening minutes.

These are the top 20 opening scenes in horror films:

1 - John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)  When the killer's mask is pulled off, he is revealed to be a child... still holding the knife. Music and direction are brilliant here - a great way to open a horror movie. Note: this is the original 1978 John Carpenter movie. Do not confuse it with the garbage remake from 2007.

2 - Drag Me to Hell (2009) A boy is literally dragged down to hell. It doesn't get much more gruesome than that for movie openers.

3 - Urban Legend (1998) "Someone's in the back seat!"  Although the movie was just average, it has a great opening scene.

4 - Alone in the Dark (1982)  In a spooky diner, a man is strung up by chains and split in half by a cleaver.


5 - Jeeper's Creepers (2001) It's a long, suspenseful intro, but it's very effective in pulling you into the movie.

6 - Hellraiser (1987) "What's your pleasure, Mr.?"  We see the puzzle box in motion for the first time, and then Pinhead among body parts.

7 - Dog Soldiers (2002) Jumps right into the terror.

8 - When A Stranger Calls (1979) A babysitter gets several phone calls from a man asking her if she's checked the children. The police trace the calls and tell her: "...the calls are coming from inside the house. Get out of the house!"

9 - The Fog (1980) John Houseman tells a spooky tale around a campfire on the beach. It explains the premise of the movie, the reason the ship of dead souls is returning for revenge at San Antonio Bay, 100 years after the shipwreck. Quiet and scary. Sometimes the best openings are clever and subtle.



10 - Pumpkinhead (1988) the backstory and our first glimpse of the creature in the opening scene. A special Top2040 favorite!

11 - Ghost Ship (2003) wire cuts clean and straight.

12 - Night of the Living Dead (1968) The graveyard scene at the opening, our first zombie.

13 - Friday the 13th Part VI : Jason Lives (1986) deals a pretty cool opening hand. It's "Bride of Frankenstein" meets Jason, because lightning does revive corpses in the movie world.

14 - Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)  The creepy hand comes up from the water....

15 - Halloween 2 (1981)  The movie opens with the ending of the first film. This might be cheating to add this to the list, but the sequence is very effective. Neighbor: "I've been Trick-or-Treated to death!"  Dr. Loomis: "You don't know what death is."

16 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)  Surreal and creepy.

17 - Children of the Corn (1984) The movie opens with the children murdering all the adults in town.

18 - Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) A girl is ripped apart by a dog in a gruesome opening. Oddly it's blamed on a man (I guess CSI didn't exist then, or the ability to discern a dog ravaging from a knife?) and the man is brutally killed by the girl's family. A pretty violent first 12 minutes.  Of course, the murdered man becomes .... the Scarecrow!

19 - Nightbreed (1990)  Anyone for a face peeling?

20 - The Evil Dead (2013) while the original 1981 film was a better movie, the remake has a better opening scene.  The witch is a pip.

Honorable Mention:  Silver Bullet (1985) An opening decapitation is always an attention grabber.

Check out more on Top2040, including the flip side (endings):


2nd Honorable mention:  Tarantula (1955) , Creepshow (1982) and Crawlspace (1986) have pretty scary opening scenes.

Did we forget any really great horror movie openers?  They're probably at # 22 and 23.



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