In horror movies, any kind of hooks usually revolve around sharp pointy ones jabbing an unsuspecting person through an eye socket or spinal cord. However, “the hook” is also important in getting a viewer’s attention right off the bat. Draw them in early with something fantastic.
There are some openings so great that they make up for the rest of the movie being awful. Other intros are just icing on the cake of an already fantastic horror movie.
Gallons of gore, dialogue and tension, or a badass soundtrack are just some of the creative ways to open a movie.
Here are the top five movies that have the greatest opening scenes guaranteed to get your blood boiling.
Warning: here, there be spoilers!
5. Dawn of the Dead (2004 Remake)
Another music/opening montage selection. How can you beat Johnny Cash playing over news footage of chomping zombies?
4. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
A scene guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of babysitter’s everywhere, When a Stranger Calls is another unforgettable opening. It’s also unforgettable because of the idiocy of the cops (“whistle into the phone when he calls!”), but that’s another story.
Similar to Scream, this opening scene has to do with tension and phone lines. The first 20 minutes of this cult movie consist of babysitter Jill Johnson playing cat-and-mouse over the phone with a creepy caller. Finally, the scene reaches its penultimate when the cops call Jill and tell her that the caller is calling from inside the house.
That’s the aw, shit moment.
When a Stanger Calls is not a favorite horror movie or even that good but the opening scene is worth seeing and very well-played.
3. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
If you give me a horror movie with scenes of gore and trailing innards and slashed throats set atop an epic out-of-place soundtrack you got a winner. One of my favourite techniques in horror movies is oddly placed music. Sweet music set on top of malice. You look at the scene different. It lightens the horror in something so unexpected.
Rob Zombie is the goddamn best at this.
The Devil’s Rejects soundtrack rivals Tarantino. You want to watch it. You want that music.
The Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider playing across the opening credits (and opening murder) is a fine, fun piece of an introduction. I consider it one of the best because of the song and the fact that I could watch it again and again. You should feel bad watching it but you don’t.
Desensitisation at its finest.
2. Scream (1996)
To me, hands down, Scream has one of the best openings I’ve ever seen. Drew Barrymore, the supposed star is killed off. But not before she has one of the coolest scenes in her acting career (I mean that as a compliment).
The thing about this intro, and yes, there’s good gore at the end, is the dialogue. The killer’s voice – grating in an oddly attractive type of way –meshes with the sweetness of Drew Barrymore’s and pulls you in. The dialogue starts innocent enough, a supposed wrong phone number, asking about popcorn, boyfriends, favorite scary movies, and then in the midst of the flow of conversation the killer says “I want to know who I’m looking at.”
Uh, what? Excuse me?
Scream, one of the definitive movies from the 90s, builds the suspense with taught dialogue right up until the gut-spilling end scene.
1. Jaws (1979)
This three-minute intro is responsible for every generation’s fear of the ocean. It doesn’t matter that this movie was made in the seventies; no matter what age – you watch Jaws and you’ll never look at water-skis or a late-night dip the same again.
The scene opens – a beautiful blonde frolicking in the ocean, waiting for her lover to join her. Gorgeous. Frisky. Tan. Sexily flailing. We envied her for a moment.
That is, until the shark arrives. A tug on her leg. Then another. Her screams echoing on the shoreline until she’s dragged under. Down and out for the count. Perhaps you sat there, slack-jawed and WTF-wide eyed.
You never see the shark. You just see it see her.
This is a classic horror movie introduction that will never be forgotten. Especially when you’re at the beach…
Feature by Jules Archer
Connect with Jules: @JulesJustWrite