There’s no denying that over the decades, horror films have worked their way into the collective conscious. Besides a hockey mask, fangs, and long, stringy black hair, there are tons of iconic horror scenes out there. Some films have become so popular that just mentioning the title of the film in a room full of people will have everyone conjuring the same image. Some horror films are so popular that even those who don’t like horror films can’t help but think about the scene that made the film so popular. Below is a list, in no specific order, of a bunch of classic horror films that spark the same image to everyone that thinks of said film.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
Since I referred to this film above, let’s start with the classic first film in the franchise. Over the years, this franchise created many memorable scenes, but no scene is more iconic than little Jason Voorhees jumping out of the water and attacking Alice in the canoe.
You know this list wouldn’t be complete without perhaps the most iconic horror scene ever put on film!! The accent of the strings, the camera shots, and the look on Janet Leigh’s face makes the shower scene one of the most famous scenes in movie history.
Perhaps the goriest iconic scene on my list comes from the Cronenberg classic film about a group of people with extraordinary psychic powers. I wish I could go back and relive watching the exploding head scene again for the first time!! When you see Michael Ironside lean back in his chair and get that look on his face, you can’t help but smile at what is about to happen.
When the alien bursts out of John Hurt’s chest, who didn’t jump?? Nothing like this had ever been seen before. It is a shocking scene even when you know it is going to happen. It is such an iconic scene in the horror and sci-fi genres that Mel Brooks spoofed this scene in his 1987 comedy, SPACEBALLS.
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
You know exactly what scene I’m referring to. This was as terrifying as it was groundbreaking, and the choice of playing “Blue Moon” as David transforms was brilliant.
THE EXORCIST (1973)
Arguably, this entire movie is one long iconic scene, but I think the one scene that everyone thinks about is when Regan’s head turns around in a three hundred and sixty degree circle. This one still sends shivers down my spine. When David Kessler (David Naughton) first transforms into a werewolf, it is one of the most amazing scenes ever put on film. When I first watched it, my jaw dropped.
One of my favorite ghost movies also has one helluva iconic scene–and this scene comes more from the poster!! When you think about the original POLTERGEIST, I think of the image of Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) sitting in front of the static-y TV with her hands pressed against the glass. It still sends shivers up and down my spine.
Like with THE EXORCIST, there are many iconic scenes in JAWS. But I think the one most people think about when someone says, “Have you seen Jaws?” is when Roy Scheider is chumming the waters and the shark pops up right next to him. Everything about that scene is perfect–especially Scheider’s reaction.
You know exactly what scene is iconic from this film!! When the beautiful Barbara Crampton is tied to the table and Dr. Hill redefines what it means to “give someone head,” I don’t know if there’s a more classic scene.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
While being far from m favorite film on this list, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT has no doubt become an important part of horror movie history. And the scene that everyone thinks about when this film is mentioned is when Heather Donahue is scared shitless and turns the camera on herself. We don’t even see her entire face, but what we do see in her eyes is absolute terror.
You know I couldn’t leave this film off the list!! Some might recall the scene where Dr. Frankenstein yells out, “It’s alive!”, but for me and a lot of others, when this film is mentioned, the first thing I think about is the scene of the monster by the lake with the little girl. It is as tragic as it is beautiful.
THE SHINING (1980)
You know where I’m going with this one!! Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance slowly going bat-shit bonkers is one of the best horror performances ever captured on film. And when Torrance cuts a hole in the bathroom door and sticks his face through and yells. “Here’s Johnny,” most audiences didn’t know whether they should laugh or by terrified–or both. Such a great film with great performances by everyone involved.
Poor Carrie!! When she’s at the prom and feeling like she has finally been accepted by her peers only to have a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on her head, well you can just see her world fall around her. And then of course she makes the world fall around her. Another one of the classic, iconic horror scenes.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
Definitely not the scariest mask in horror movie history, but what the mask symbolizes has sent chills down movie-goers spines for almost twenty-five years. And the look in Lector’s eyes as they wheel him out as he is wearing that mask is chilling!!
KING KONG (1933, 1976)
What could be more iconic than a huge gorilla holding a petite human woman? Well, when said gorilla is holding said woman and climbs the Empire State Building and battles the military!! Classic scene indeed.
THE BIRDS (1963)
Hitchcock makes this list again with the film that set a new standard on the when-creatures-attack sub-genre. The creatures here aren’t radioactive animals or creatures from outer space. They killers here are your common variety birds. But that final scene as the survivors walk through the hundreds of thousands of birds is absolutely nerve-racking and frightening as hell. It was as if the birds decided to let them go to warm others. One of the greatest scenes in horror film history, and just about as iconic as you can get.
So which films did I forget? Sound off below in the comments section.