What are the best ten jump moments in horror? From creepy ghosts, to monster attacks to the good old fashioned dream sequences and severed heads, here is our top ten jump / scare movie moments. Scared? You will be. Warning, spoilers ahead.
10 .The Eye (2002) Ghost at the Calligraphy school.
Just squeezing out Sadako’s appearance in Ring (that was more creepy than a ‘jump’ moment), the Pang bros’ The Eye makes the list with this fine ghost scare. Given a cornea transplant in order to see again, Mun soon finds herself noticing ghosts, seemingly harmless at first, but then she visits the calligraphy school and sees a girl in the corner. Cue an unnaturally fast leap across the room and hundreds of viewers hardly believing what they’ve just seen with their own eyes.
Thinking that MacReady (Kurt Russell) is ‘The Thing’, attention is diverted when Norris is knocked over in a scuffle and stops breathing. The Antarctic scientists rush him into the operating room where Doc attempts CPR, but to no avail. Then they bring in the defibrillator. “Clear!,’ shouts Doc as pushes down with the pads, only to find that the chest is in fact a large mouth with sharp teeth that suddenly leaves Doc with severed arms and spurting blood. Thing 1, humans 0.
In a movie crammed with jump moments, The Descent also gives us the best scare shot of the century so far. After finding themselves trapped in unknown cave system, the group of girls climb a waterfall rock face and turn on their infra-red video camera to explore their new surroundings. It’s not pretty; bones litter the wet floor and as we pan from face to face, we suddenly spot something strange in the background… The cinematic equivalent of a high-volt electrical shock.
7 .Don't Look Now (1973) Little Red Riding Hood Much parodied, referenced and imitated, Nicholas Roeg displays his master hand here with the one of the most unforgettable twist endings ever filmed. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie visit Venice to recover after losing their daughter, but keep seeing someone in a red coat. Convinced it is the spirit of his daughter, Sutherland confronts the red-coated figure, only to find out it’s not really a young girl at all. Totally unexpected, totally horrific and a total downer of an ending.
6 .An Amercian Werewolf in London (1981) Double dream shocker.
American ‘werewolf’ David Kessler is at home watching TV with the family when he answers the door to an army of mutant storm troopers who proceed to brutally machine-gun the whole family before slashing David’s throat. In itself, a very tense scene, but John Landis then calms our nerves by revealing that it was all in fact a dream. Phew!, we think to ourselves, completely unguarded. And then sexy Jenny Agutter (in a nurse’s outfit no less) opens the curtains…
Such a ‘jump’ moment it even fooled the actors. Suffering from chest pains at dinner, Kane (John Hurt) suddenly begins to choke uncontrollably. As the rest of the crew try to help, flecks of blood start appearing on his white T-shirt and then suddenly… Cue shocked actors (even if they had a vague idea of what was happening, they were certainly not expecting to be sprayed with blood), cue chest-burster, cue genuine classic film scene. And thus, Alien was born.
This underrated sequel is admittedly dialogue-heavy, but it does at least contain one of the best scares in film, full stop. On a quiet night shift, a nurse checks her papers as a security guard strolls around the hallway. After a minor scare with a sleeping doctor, we settle back in our seats only to be caught completely off guard by the appearance of a white cloaked figure with a giant set of rib separators, accompanied by a lovely fast zoom. Don’t lose your head.
From tampon bullying in the showers to the constant abuse from her over-religious mother, it’s really no surprise Carrie finally flips when a bucket of pig’s blood is poured over her at the prom. Her ensuing retribution is so intense and rampant that it comes as a great relief when she dies. But don’t relax yet; Sue Snell (Amy Irving) has one last nightmare featuring a bunch of flowers, Carrie’s grave and Sissy Spacek’s arms, narrowly beating Friday the 13th as the best ‘last scene’ jump ever. De Palma knows his endings.
The moment Somerset (Freeman) and Mills (Pitt) realise they are chasing some serious sick-fuck (definitely not Yoda!) is the moment they find the victim of Sloth. With the help of a torch-carrying SWAT team, the detectives find a withered corpse amongst hundreds of xmas tree air fresheners. Flicking through photos, they realise the victim has been this way for exactly one year. One of the SWAT team leans in close, the ‘corpse’ suddenly coughs and cinemagoers in 1997 find themselves sans popcorn and covered in cola.
Top of the shocks though, surely must go to the mid-70s blockbuster Jaws. Spielberg’s greatest shock-shot (famously filmed post-production in a swimming pool) is still the ultimate pants-filler, thanks to a combination of creepy pre-tension (Hooper’s in the water for a start – at night – get out you fool!), a beautifully timed reveal, a great looking dummy head (minus eye) and a legendary John Williams heart-stopping score. It’s gotta be said, Spielberg gave great head.