12 shocking opening sequences of classic horror movies

Contributed by
Oct 13, 2013, 12:57 PM EDT (Updated)

Horror films try their best to shock and awe. They strive to pique our interest and keep us guessing. Nothing grabs your attention like a solid opening scene. We don't mean choppy dialogue paired with title credits. We're referring to something much more extreme — an action or reveal most films keep hidden until the final act.

Some filmmakers immediately throw you into the deep end. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so they make it count. So for the 12th entry in our 31 Days of Halloween series, here are 12 movies that opened with a bloody bang.


Twilight Zone: The Movie

In The Twilight Zone, nothing is as it seems. Unfortunately, that didn't stop us from being duped by its movie opening. Funnymen Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd lull us into a false sense of security before making a monstrous reveal. Cue the music!


"Do you like scary movies?" That's the question that set off countless deaths. Wes Craven bested Alfred Hitchcock by having one of his film's biggest stars killed within the first 15 minutes. Despite being prominently featured in the posters and trailers, Drew Barrymore wasn't long for the Scream world.

Halloween (1978)

As a young boy, Michael Myers was mentally unstable. We knew he had a history of violence but still flinched at his first big kill. We watched as a woman was stabbed to death — through the eyes of a child. It was a disturbing way to introduce a film. Then again, it was directed by John Carpenter. We should have known better.

The Ring

The opening of The Ring (the American remake of Japan's Ringu/Ring) was filled with misdirects and fake scares. What killer comes with a VHS tape, a phone call and a seven-day waiting period? It's a ridiculous premise, but things start to slowly add up. Before you know it, everything falls into place and we witness our first death by videotape.

Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship doesn't pull any punches. It goes right for the jugular, torso and arms. Bodies are literally ripped in half. This is a very graphic sequence, not made for those with a weak stomach (pun intended).

28 Weeks Later

Things escalate quickly when a family dinner turns a family … into dinner. 28 Weeks Later may not be as great as its predecessor, but it's a solid sequel. The opening alone makes it one of our favorites. It starts with a group but ends with one man running for his life.

Night of the Living Dead

Could you imagine being at the first screening of Night of the Living Dead? In 2013, zombies are old hat, but in the '60s they were still evolving. If this scene taught us anything, it's that zombies aren't as stupid as they look. Exhibit A: This one had the common sense to use a brick to break into Barbara's car. He's dead but not dumb.


Because of this scene (and box-office revenue), Saw became a seven-part series. This single setup started it all. Someone wakes up in a strange place with a strange man, making strange requests. You're held against your will and forced into a life-or-death situation. There's no handholding here.

Final Destination

2000's Final Destination is the originator of the franchise. It starts with a plane full of teenagers meeting their fiery deaths. Luckily for us, it was only a premonition, which really sets the film into motion. With every sequel, the writers tried to top the previous opening, but this is the one that broke the mold.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Everything about 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is straight to the point. Its intro is an example of a little doing a lot. Creepy voiceover? Check. Spooky location? Check. Decomposed body? Wait, what?!

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

Before Scream made us scared to answer the phone, there was When a Stranger Calls. Here, a quiet evening turns into a psychological nightmare. With every ring, our fear increases. This poor babysitter has no idea what's in store for her, and at that point, neither do we!

The Stepfather (1987)

The opening of The Stepfather gets right into the thick of it. A bloody Terry O'Quinn takes a shower, shaves and changes his wardrobe. He looks like an upstanding member of society. That is, until he walks out the door and we see the gory mess he leaves behind. Did no one hear their screams?

What's your favorite opening scene?

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