10 Great Jump Scares in Horror!

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The thing about revisiting jump scares is, they’re just never quite as effective the second (or third, or fourth, or ninetieth) time around. So when putting together this list, I made a point of seeking out the ones that a) still have an effect on me, even after repeat viewings; b) boast some level of real craftsmanship beyond just “aahh! it’s dark! and there’s a cat! jumping!”; c) stick in the mind long after the initial scare has come and gone; and/or d) display some combination of the above traits.

So what did I come up with at the end of it all? Check out my final ten below, then log your own picks in the comments.

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  • VoorheesAJollyGoodFellow

    I think the other dream in AMERICAN WEREWOLF made me jump more. The one where she’s walking toward David’s bed and he’s looking all peaceful and asleep and then he opens his eyes and bares his fangs. I nearly jumped out of my skin!

  • JorgeSolis

    The Thing and alien are my favs in this list.

  • Danny-E

    My dad took me to see Friday the 13th in the theaters when it came out. I was 11 and that last scene scared me so bad I screamed. The whole movie scared the shit out of me. After that day … I was obsessed with horror movies. Thanks Dad.

    • djblack1313

      Danny-E, that’s awesome! my dad (who’s passed away many years ago) always took me to horror movies. THE CHANGELING, a double feature of HALLOWEEN 2 (Carpenter’s film) & THE FUNHOUSE, each FRIDAY THE 13th film as it came out, etc, etc all movies my dad would take me to see! thank you Dad! :)

      • jchano123

        ugghh. that sounds super awesome to watch those big films in theaters as they come out. I was born in 1996 and I had strict parents that wouldn’t let me watch me R rated movies until I was 14 (of course I disobeyed them and watched things like The Shining, The Exorcist, Scream, Saw, Amityville Horror (remake), When A Stranger Calls, The Ring, and The Grudge when I was 11). The first horror movie i saw in theaters was My Soul To Take (2010). :/

  • BelaManiac

    As soon as I saw the title of this, I knew the ending of Carrie had to be here. Watching this as a little girl, my father (having already seen it) decided to sneak up behind my sister and I right at the moment to scare us. Still a scary scene 20 years later for me.

  • Slasher_Lover23

    the attic jump scare in Rec/Quarantine and when Micah gets thrown at the camera in Paranormal Activity are the biggest jump scares I’ve ever seen on screen. as far as today’s horror films go.

    • A-Devils-Reject

      Totally agree on Rec! My friend damn near hit the ceiling when I watched it with him. That and The Descent when the monster is first revealed standing right behind her when she turns on the nightvision camera. Saw it in theaters and that was the loudest theater i’ve ever been in when that scene appeared

      • sweett8er

        I agree with the Descent. That one got me where not many movies have.

  • djblack1313

    Chris Eggertsen I LOVE YOU for putting THE EXORCIST III hallway scene in the #1 spot!!!! this movie is in my top 3 favorite horror movies ever (i love it a million times more than i do the first EXORCIST)!! this scene is even better when seen in context of the whole movie. by the time this scene takes place, the viewer (at least i was) is already on edge and immersed in the disturbing things we’ve learned about the Gemini Killer. i love this list!

    also, the jump scares in these movies work. they are used to enhance already tense scenes/movies. i hate the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies because all they are are cheap jump scare/stingers. there’s no tension or dread in those films so the “BAAM!” loud noise stingers really piss me off (hence the PA films).

  • divisionbell

    Excellent call on Exorcist III, that scene always spooked the hell out of me. Also the creepy scene with the old person crawling around on the ceiling.

  • evenscarier

    Great list! I remember seeing the Exorcist III in the theatre and nearly ending up on the floor at that scene!

  • http://www.facebook.com/glyn.culliford Glyn Culliford

    What about the decent where they are looking through the video recorder and the thing is standing behind them

  • staindFAN

    Love the TCM 2 one! Still gets me every time!

  • Darkness69

    Great list! Also, the scene in “In The Mouth Of Madness” where Sam Neill first dreams of the mob in the alley, then wakes up next to the zombie policeman – and then finally wakes up. Amazing scare!

    • Evil_Flip

      I freaking love Exorsist III, that movie is just insane. I mean that scene where they just barely save the girl from getting her head cut off, that’s just freaking awesome. Anyways good list, but I’m missing the end scene from Prince of Darkness. It’s kinda cliche, but (to me) still a classic.

  • Joe-Banger

    Killer list! Except for day of the dead, that movie sucked!

    • horrorking95

      Oh no! Day of the Dead’s great!

  • SuperKilla

    The French film “Inside” when the cop gets his face blown off. I jumped like jerk when I saw that scene and even though it is not a horror film, the scene from “Pulp Fiction” when Marvin gets his face blown off. Just a coincindence both characters get thir faces blown away.

  • coldblood

    That scene in Exorcist 3 stuck in my head for weeks. There’s a great shock scene in Sinister too. Don’t want to give it away, but it made the whole audience jump. Those who have seen it know which scene I am talking about.

  • but-sir-the-piranha

    solid list, kudos especially to an american werewolf… and se7en!

  • Marty McFly

    Well, Exorcist 3 sucks but that scene did make me jump when I watched the movie. Friday the 13th is classic. The Thing is also great.

  • Mylo_89

    I really like your list, but I have to disagree with your choice about the jump scare in Friday The 13th being one of the best “jump scares”. It was a great choice, but I thought the ending in Friday The 13th Part II trumped the ending to Friday The 13th, because in Part II, the scene that happened after Jenny said “Come here Muffin” nearly gave me a heart attack at the ripe old age of 10. Just as I was about to calm down & fall asleep, my Aunt’s dog suddenly jumped in bed with me from behind, and I passed out from shock. True story! LOL.

  • ThunderDragoon

    Sinister’s lawnmower scene should definitely be on this list. I’ve never been scared more at any jump scare in my life.

    • evenscarier

      That was great! I jumped and nearly dropped my sno-caps.

  • doomas10

    What about the descent where the crawler pops in behind the girl? Also , Carpenter’s Halloween where Myers stabs the guy in the kitchen! I was shitting bricks for weeks!

  • MachetAY

    Oh man… we are way to trained with a modern eye. Placing some of these movies in their time period brings some other heavy hitters to the table…

    Phantom of the Opera… mask off scene
    Psycho… mothers turn around
    Night of the Living Dead… 1st zombie attack on Babs
    The Ring/ Ringu… chick comes through TV
    PA… Katie gets dragged down the hall

  • horrorking95

    What about [REC] with the boy in the loft? That makes me feel so tense every time, and Ialways jump!
    I also agree that Sinister’s lawn mower scene should be there. One of the best scares in recent years!

  • niceguyeddie1971

    The final act in Burnt Offerings with Karen Black and Oliver Reed scared the shit out of me when I was a kid.
    The closet scene in the beginning of The Ring caught me off guard. And that creature and the midget running around in the daytime in Insidious was a good scare.
    But for me the number ome scene is the double fist across the back when Damian was tying the demon’s feet to the bed in the Exorcist.

  • LastCubScout

    Ben Cross jumps at the camera in a dream sequence from “Paperhouse” (1988)

    The protagonist finds the ghost lady hovering over his bed in the 1989 “The Woman in Black” TV movie.

    The gutter breaks the window during Donald Pleasance’s dramatic speech in “Halloween” (1978).

  • Adam

    Wait Until Dark, from 1967. That ending. Holy shit, saw it when I was 12, scared the crap out of me.

  • Tom Beasley

    One of my favourites is a recent one. The lawnmower scene in Sinister made me leap nearly a foot out of my seat. You know exactly what’s going to happen, but you’re still not ready when it does.

  • shawna

    The Descent.

  • theraphosidae

    The Descent for sure, when she’s looking through the camera and it pans over and one the of creatures is standing right behind the girl. Not expecting that.
    Also in A Tale of Two Sisters, the scene where she’s in the kitchen and you expect something to grab her, but then you’re like “no that would be way too predictable” and then something DOES grab her. That made me jump. It’s like reverse psychology.

  • lauries484

    The bedroom scene from The Conjuring, where with the ghost / demon jumps off the top of the dresser made me jump!!

  • Carl Cook

    Maybe not strictly a horror, but the final scene of Deliverance with the hand coming out of the water one of the best I think.