Here are 10 of my favourite shocks & scares, both drawn out and skin-jumpers.
(Mario Bava, 1977):
So simple but so effective.
2. WILLOW CREEK
(Bobcat Goldthwait, 2013):
In the tent.
When I saw this at FrightFest, a woman screamed and usually this might encourage a chuckle from others, but by that time the tension had us wound so thoroughly that nobody murmured a thing.
(Pedro Amenabar, 2001)
Just a little thing, but thoroughly chilling.
(Damien Rugna, 2017)
The man under the bed and/or the corpse at the table.
A truly effective and fun dispenser of fright scenes.
(Stephen Spielberg, 1975)
Well, not seeing Bruce has been pretty damned scary up until that point, and then...
6. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
(John Landis, 1981)
Home invasion dream.
Never fails to unnerve me and scared me shitless as a boy. I mean, I was already freaked out by the moors scene, but then...
7. Dr WHO: The Talons of Weng-Chiang
(David Mahoney, 1977)
Old-school scary puppet. Terrified me as a kid and once Mr. Sin’s true nature is revealed – something to do with being a pig-creature – as an adult I found something viscerally repulsive in him too.
8. The HAUNTING
Well, the whole thing really, but this one moment is a classic.
5. THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
(Mike Flanagan, 2018, NetFlix series)
The car jump-scare.
This is a jump-scare in the tradition of “Boo!” that the ‘Insidious’ and ‘The Conjuring’ franchises pedal, but this one actually caught me out. And that’s because it seemingly comes as a reaction to sibling squabbling and thereby also has resonance. It’s headlong to disappointment from then on and therefore far inferior to the other entries here. But it gets a mention because it fully worked on me and I jumped mile.
10. SUNDAY’S CHILDREN
(Daniel Bergman, 1992)
The swinging ghost.
Directed by his son, but written by Ingmar Bergman whose work has always seemed just a shadow away from horror. These moments often come without warning in otherwise perfectly realistic domestic dramas, and they’re all the more shocking and scary for being unexpected.