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The Scariest First 10 Minutes Of Movies Ever

Establishing a mood from the get-go is monumentally important for a movie, especially films of the horror-thriller genre. A movie's first few scenes can either strike an audience as memorable, or they can be an early indicator of yawns to come (which is particularly scary for horror fans). In the case of these freaky flicks, their first ten minutes were terrifying for all the right reasons.


The opening scene from Scream was an instant horror favorite and for good reason. Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) is your everyday teen girl, cooking up some popcorn in her home alone, while her parents are out on a date. Suddenly, she gets a call from an apparent prankster who wants to talk about scary movies. Casey thinks it's all just fun and games and plays along...until the conversation starts to turn dark.

She quickly begins to realize this isn't some school-aged joke, especially once the caller reveals he's abducted her boyfriend, Steve, and bound him on her back deck. Her fight-or-flight response kicks in, but she quickly discovers the latter option isn't available because the masked boogeyman is lurking outside—and eventually inside—her home. The villain's speed and ability to predict her every move, courtesy of the house's open window scheme, is absolutely crippling. Making things worse, when the killer finally strikes, Casey's parents have come back home. Unfortunately, they don't hear her calls for help. After being strangled and stabbed in the chest, Casey can't scream loud enough for anyone to notice.


All Chrissie (Susan Backlinie) wanted to do was take a little night swim with the cute guy she met at a party. While she's practically a fish in the moonlit water, the dude isn't so convinced he's capable of swimming. He's pretty drunk, after all, so Chrissie goes it alone...and gets about halfway to a buoy before that ominous cello music kicks in.

Chrissie is all smiles in the dark until something starts to pull her under. She's left thrashing and begging for help, but her wannabe boyfriend is unaware on the beach. Desperate, she tries to cling to the buoy, but she knows she's done for. "I'm going to die, oh my God, I'm going to die," she screams before, yep, the shark drags her down and makes a meal of the poor girl. Meanwhile, Mr. Helpful is still over there, drunkenly murmuring to himself on the sand.

It's after that shocking opening that we meet Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), whose home overlooks the very tide that took Chrissie's life. He gets a call to investigate the girl's disappearance, reported by her clueless beau. Upon arriving at the beach, the two discover Chrissie's mangled body has washed up to the shore and is now covered with hungry crabs, the sea's version of vultures. And while we all have a lot of questions about what will happen next, we know one thing for certain.

This was not a boat accident.

The Ring

We should've guessed by the opening shot of a creepy, vine-covered house that this was bound to be a scene of devastation. Of course, the two characters inside are having a pretty ridiculous conversation, giving us a false sense of security. Katie (Amber Tamblyn) and Becca (Rachael Bella) are sitting in a room, dressed in their school uniforms, watching TV and rambling about the potential hazards of electronic devices. And their commentary is prescient, but not for the reasons they think. It's not the "electrorays" that pose a threat to the girls. It's something much, much worse.

Katie, the girl who was raving about the dangers of modern tech, has encountered a fabled videotape that's supposed to kill whoever watches it. (Heed those warning labels, people!) She then reveals that after watching the video, she received an ominous call. Worse still, the requisite week has passed, and now she's out of time. However, she doesn't think she's in any danger and fakes choking to make light of the situation. Soon, it's back to normal chatter about her OMG-worthy tryst with this Josh guy she watched the tape with.

Of course, when the phone rings at the exact time she saw the film seven days prior, things start getting freaky. Sure, it was only her mom on the line, but after Katie hangs up, the electronics in her house start turning themselves on, doors start opening by themselves, and water begins mysteriously dripping from doorknobs. When she goes to find Becca, she discovers the video is playing in her room, and she gasps as her face turns to stone. Then we learn that Katie's cousin, Aidan (David Dorfman, who's a dead ringer for Damian from The Omen), is drawing grisly scenes of the girl's death. So yeah, we're only a few minutes in, and the creepy kid factor is already way too much to handle.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The opening credits for Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street introduce Freddie Krueger (Robert Englund), without showing his disfigured face, as he creates those horrible claw gloves in his boiler room realm. Then we meet his first victim of the film, Tina (Amanda Wyss), a pajama-clad blonde who's running down the halls of his leaky lair, all while Krueger cackles at the uselessness of her escape attempt. She awakens to realize it's all just a dream, but judging by the slash marks on her gown, we already know it's much worse than some normal nightmare. Clinging to that little cross isn't going to help, Tina.

It's then we're treated to that creepy school children's song, the one that goes, "One, two, Freddie's coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door." And while it warns us to "never sleep again," you can't beat your own biology. Understandably terrified by her nightmare, Tina consults with her friends, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and Glen (Johnny Depp), who explain it's "no biggie" to have a bad dream. However, they agree to stay the night at her place, just in case.

That night, as they're comparing dreams, they hear something outside. The atmosphere gets eerie, but then we learn it's just Tina's foul-mouthed boyfriend, Rod (Jsu Garcia), joining the sleepover for some salacious good times. All seems well with the world, but if we look past the first ten minutes, things take a pretty nasty turn. After everyone goes to sleep, Tina comes face-to-face with the stuff of her nightmares, and let's just say that it doesn't end well. If you thought The Exorcist's bed-spinning scene was rough, this is bound to shake you to your core.

28 Days Later

Yeah, sure, George Romero is the undisputed king of the zombie genre, but Danny Boyle's vision of the flesh-eating apocalypse is just as terrifying as anything Romero ever put to film. In 28 Days Later, we're first greeted with closed-circuit footage of the worldwide panacea that seemingly accompanies the arrival of the undead. But as it turns out, this is all just part of an experiment. These torturous visions are being played at a primate research facility, all for the "benefit" of a strapped-down chimp. But never fear, little ape. Masked rebels try to spring these creatures from their cages, but a scientists warns the chimps are infected with "rage." Despite the doctor's protests, the activists free the animals, and as a reward for their mercy, the humans are savagely attacked and infected.

Exactly 28 days later (hence the title), we meet Jim (Cillian Murphy), who wakes up in a hospital bed, Rick Grimes-style. However, we get to see a lot more of Jim than we did of Rick, if you get our meaning. But modesty aside, Jim staggers out of the hospital and discovers a world ravaged by the rage virus. That's when the dreary music sets in, and we realize we're in for a wild, horrible ride.

Night of the Living Dead

In the introduction to George A. Romero's seminal zombie flick, we meet Johnny (Russell Streiner) and Barbra (Judith O'Dea), a brother and sister who've trekked 200 miles to put a wreath on a relative's grave. Before getting out of the car, Johnny turns off a radio broadcast that was suspended after "technical problems," so he doesn't get to hear what we assume is some kind of warning. Seconds later, the two locate the headstone and lay an arrangement as Barbra pays her respects with a prayer. Johnny wants nothing to do with religion, and as a storm sets in, he notices a man walking through the graveyard, which seemed empty just moments before.

The urgency of their situation becomes obvious once Johnny starts joking about the haunting nature of their locale, teasing his sister with the infamous line, "They're coming to get you, Barbra." Little does Johnny know, his joke has just set the tone for everything that's about to happen. Still having a good time, Johnny points at the wandering weirdo and teases, "There comes one of them now." And while his words are said in jest, they couldn't be more true. Barb tries to pass the stranger, but he reaches out and grabs her. Johnny jumps to his sister's defense, but he's knocked out cold while trying to wrestle the man to the ground.

Terrified, Barbra kicks off her shoes and runs away to lock herself inside her car (Johnny has the keys, though, so that's a problem). However, this walker has the good sense to smash the window with a stone. Barbra then releases the parking brake, hoping she can roll away to safety, but a tree stops her progress, forcing her to flee on foot. When she enters an abandoned farmhouse that seems relatively safe, it's only the beginning of her bout with this deadly humanoid thing...and many others to come.

Dawn of the Dead

As far as remakes go, Zack Snyder's 2004 take on George Romero's Dawn of the Dead is a pretty good one, and it's opening scenes are absolutely chilling. First, we meet a nurse named Ana (Sarah Polley) and her husband, Luis (Louis Ferreira). It's early morning, and the couple are still asleep in bed, when Luis spots a neighborhood girl sneaking into the house. After noticing her mouth is covered in blood, he assumes she's been hurt and tries to help her out, only to get a mouthful of teeth for his trouble. Ana wisely locks the thrashing psycho child in another room, but she soon finds her husband's neck wound is more serious than she thought. Not only is it deadly, but it also causes her hubby to reawaken as an entirely different sort of being altogether.

Running for her life, Ana manages to grab her car keys and duck into the bathroom to escape through a window. But unfortunately, her problems have only just begun. Outside, the neighborhood is in total chaos. People are screaming, pointing guns at each other, and getting run over by ambulances. Houses are ablaze, and just like the kid locked inside her home, the children have also fallen victim to this madness. Ana then makes a mad dash for refuge as all hell breaks loose around town.

Now, that's what you call a wakeup call.


The beginning scenes of Saw certainly set the stage for what will become a gruesome series of death-games, all courtesy of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), the guy who didn't like his cancer diagnosis and took it out on everyone he deemed worthy of a terrible demise. In the first shot, we see Adam (Leigh Whannell) wake up in a bathtub after a glowing key chain floats by his submerged face. Understandably freaked out, Adam discovers he's in a dark, damp room. On top of that, he's chained down. Adam then realizes he's not alone when he hears Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes), but he's still pretty confused about what's going on. And when the lights kick on, it's no consolation because he can see his situation is incredibly dismal.

Just like Adam, Dr. Gordon is bound on the other side of the room, and there's a dead (well, maybe) body on the floor, not to mention a gun and a tape recorder. Hoping to escape, Adam beings screaming for help, yanking at the chains, but nothing is helping. It's also a little weird that Gordon is so calm about their apparent kidnapping. Still, neither one knows how they wound up in this hellhole, although Gordon perceives there's a plan at play. That's when Adam discovers a tape that reads "play me" in his pocket, and the pieces start to come together, especially after Gordon discovers a tape in his own pocket...plus a bullet and a key. Obviously, Gordon tries the key, but that would be too easy. The useless thing doesn't seem to work on any lock in the room.

Without any other options, the two men manage to snag the recorder from the clutches of the "corpse," and that's when we first hear the voice that will put so many people in peril. "You might be in the room you die in," the voice warns before introducing a sinister scheme. It's a terrifying start to a terrifying game, one that we love to watch on-screen but would never want to play.

Final Destination

When it comes to Final Destination, the introductory credits alone might've been scary enough to establish the tone for this creepy flick. However, the following scenes are even more horrifying, and they set a pretty high bar for the rest of the franchise when it comes to achieving that shock factor. In the beginning, we meet Alex (Devon Sawa), a high school student who's boarding Flight 180 with his school pals. They're excited for their field trip to Paris, and at first, all seems well enough. But come on, we know things are about to go south in spectacular fashion.

The plane explodes mid-air, leading to the deaths of every passenger aboard. We see their awful demises played out one by one, in excruciating detail. Then all of a sudden, Alex wakes up in a cold sweat and realizes it was just a vision. Nevertheless, he's convinced this was some kind of premonition that everyone needs to heed. But after screaming his warnings to the rest of the passengers, Alex is booted from the plane, along with a few inadvertent and unhappy tagalongs. The group is made to wait in the airport as the plane takes off for the excursion of a lifetime, but then Alex's vision comes true as the plane blows up. Now, the survivors are left to mourn their loss and face down the Grim Reaper...which isn't done collecting kills just yet.

When a Stranger Calls

Although the title is certainly something of a giveaway, the opening scene of When a Stranger Calls is still pretty unsettling. We meet Jill (Carol Kane), a babysitter who's working what seems to be the easiest gig ever. The kids are already asleep, and she just gets to do her homework and chat on the phone about boys. Actually, she's expecting a phone call from a crush, but when the phone rings, it certainly isn't anyone she'd want to date. At first, it's a simple hang-up. Later, a creepy voice asks, "Have you checked the children?" Somehow, she manages to blow it off, but when the third call comes in and repeats the same question, she assumes it's just the dad calling to check on his kids.

But when she hears a spooky noise coming from inside the house, she decides to finally investigate. Fortunately, it's just the ice machine dropping new cubes. Phew! But then (dun, dun, dun), the phone rings again and stops Jill in her tracks. It's the same voice, with the same question, and now she's starting to panic. Rather than actually checking on the children, she helps herself to the Jameson and waits for the line to buzz again. Unsure of what to do, she eventually phones the police for help. This telephonic torture passes the 10-minute mark before Jill realizes the gravity of her situation, and let's just say that maybe she should've checked on the children sooner.