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SYFY WIRE Jurassic Park

Nobody move a muscle: The 9 scariest moments from the original 'Jurassic Park' trilogy

Take a look back at the most terrifying dino-moments ahead of Jurassic World Dominion.

By Josh Weiss
Jurassic Park T Rex Visitor Center

The Jurassic franchise can be summed up in two words: grandeur and terror. To quote the great Ian Malcolm: "Ooo...ahhh...that's how it always starts. But then later, there's running and screaming." We couldn't have said it better ourselves, good sir. Sure, a dinosaur coming back from extinction is a neat concept in theory, but what happens when the cloned prehistoric behemoth tries to make you its dinner?

For every awe-inspiring shot of a Brachiosaurus reaching up to peacefully munch on some leaves, there's a moment where a hapless human gets stalked and eaten alive by an angry Tyrannosaurus rex. Life's all about balance, folks. Even so, the idea of plummeting to the bottom of the food chain is something our species hasn't had to endure for thousands of years. When faced with the possibility of becoming another creature's meal, our bodies release a healthy amount of adrenaline and instruct us to get the hell out of dodge. The Jurassic IP expertly knows how to trigger that primal flight or flight response in our lizard hindbrains

Before Jurassic World Dominion delivers some fresh dino-carnage and wraps up writer-director Colin Trevorrow's epic blockbuster saga nearly a decade in the making, let's take a look back at all the pee-your-pants moments (and in some cases, poo-your-pants) from the original Jurassic Park trilogy.

The T. rex escapes its paddock

Like John Hammond playing God with his little dinosaur cloning operation on Isla Nublar, director Steven Spielberg pushed the boundaries of blockbuster science to the breaking point. The seamless blend of groundbreaking CGI effects and practical animatronics made audiences genuinely believe a T. rex was stomping around in the deluge of a tropical typhoon. Everything in this sequence — from the moment the glass of water ominously ripples on the dashboard to our first look at the hulking beast gulping down some fresh goat meat — is executed off with terrifying aplomb.

Ellie turns the power back on

It’s probably not the best idea in the world to venture into thick jungle foliage teeming with cunning velociraptors. But when you’re dinosaur theme park is without power, what other choices are there, really? Ellie Sattler’s (Lauren Dern) mission to restore power to the Jurassic Park facility culminates in a cautiously optimistic victory, only to be undercut with the dismembered arm of Samuel Jackson’s Ray Arnold. The effect is as old school as they come, but nevertheless effective.

Raptors in the kitchen

An industrial kitchen is the perfect setting for a scene like this. Trying to hide from bloodthirsty animals with acute senses of both hearing and smell becomes infinitely more difficult when one wrong move into a metal surface will alert them to your exact location. The name of the game here is silence and Spielberg — never one to miss out on a chance to fully utilize all the tricks of the filmmaking trade — takes the sound design to another level.

Years later, John Krasinski would cite this nail-biting cat and mouse game between Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and the two raptors as a major influence on his directorial debut: A Quiet Place.

"Mommy's very angry"

No good deed goes unpunished in the Jurassic universe. Sarah Harding’s efforts to fix a baby T. rex’s broken leg draws nothing, but ire from its parents, both of whom decide to send Sarah (Julianne Moore), Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) over a literal cliff. Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) comes to the rescue, saving his friends before he’s torn apart by dear old mom and dad. Eddie's terrified screams as he's ripped in twain still haunt us to this day. Come to think of it, our parents probably shouldn't have shown us this movie when we were still kids.

Dieter vs. Compies

One Compsognathus isn’t much of a problem. A whole pack of them, though? Then you’ve got trouble. Peter Stormare’s character pays for his wanton cattle prod shenanigans when a group of Compies chase him up a creek, pecking away at his resolve until they've got a tasty meal to snack on. Talk about death by a thousand cuts. Spielberg wisely leaves the worst of it up to our imaginations, lingering on the water slowly turning red.

T. rex enters camp

The idea of a T. Rex wandering into your campsite takes that age-old fear of a grizzly bear attack out in the woods to the next level. Just imagine waking up in the middle of the night to see the sharp-toothed silhouette of a prehistoric apex predator sniffing around the tent in which you've been snoozing. This goes way beyond pee-your-pants scary — it’s a pee-your-pants and void-your-bowels kind of situation.

Enter the birdcage

It took three movies to finally see some flying "dinosaurs" in action, and the Pteranodons didn't disappoint. Inspired by a chapter in Michael Crichton’s original Jurassic Park novel that didn’t make it into the first two blockbuster films, the whole aviary sequence put a fresh spin on the franchise after so much land-based terror. Trying to outmaneuver giant, winged lizards in a crumbling and misty birdcage isn’t exactly a bucket list item we want to cross off anytime soon.

Spinosaurus attacks the boat

In what is most likely a nod to Jaws (Spielberg decided to hand the directorial reigns over to Joe Johnston for the third installment, but remained on board as an executive producer), the sail-backed Spinosaurus sneaks up on and attacks the boat carrying Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and the newly-reunited Kirby family (Téa Leoni, William H. Macy, and Trevor Morgan). Our heroes retreat into a massive cage that almost immediately plunges into a river whose rising levels threaten to drown them. It’s up to Alan to grab the nearby satellite phone and call Ellie Sattler for help before the water — or worse, the Spinosaurs — consumes them all.

A rendezvous with raptors 

The coast is right there! We’re home free! Oh wait, that’s right — the velociraptors (now rocking feathers to be more scientifically accurate) still want their stolen eggs back. Most people in this franchise don’t often come out alive once they come face-to-face with these sharp-toed pack hunters. Meeting a raptor up close is pretty much a surefire death sentence, but thank goodness for Chekhov’s Raptor Resonating Chamber.

Jurassic World Dominion arrives in theaters everywhere on Friday, June 10.