Everyone loves a good scare every now and then, which is why horror movies are always one of the most popular genres. However, one of the most controversial aspects of horror films is the "jump scare." These are those moments that happen in just about every horror movie when something takes the audience by surprise, making them jump out of their seats.
Jump scares are often criticized as being a cheap ploy which doesn't necessarily make the movie any better. Of course, there are also those exceptions that prove that jump scares, when done properly, can be extremely effective no matter how many times you see them.
10 Night Vision - The Descent
The Descent is an underrated monster movie that follows a group of friends who go exploring a cave and soon find themselves hunted by man-eating creatures living in the darkness. The film feeds off the claustrophobic atmosphere and the feeling that these creatures can be lurking anywhere in the shadows.
The most memorable moment in the film comes when we get our first good look at the creatures. After hearing things moving around in the darkness of the cave, they turn on their night vision camera and see a pale, humanoid monster standing right behind them.
9 Red Demon - Insidious
Modern horror films seem to be overrun by stories about haunted houses and demonic possessions. Some of the most successful films in this sub-genre are the Insidious films. The first entry in the franchise really showed how terrifying these movies can be, with one of the scariest scenes in recent memory.
While a woman is relaying her dream of seeing a demonic creature, the camera keeps moving between her and her son who is listening to her story. As the camera gets closer to her, we know something is coming. But we're still taken by surprise when the camera cuts back to her son and the red-faced demon is standing behind him.
8 Belly Mouth - The Thing
The Thing is an alien movie that features some of the most amazing creature designs in the history of film. It is set in an isolated Arctic research facility where the small group of workers are hunted by a creature that can take the form of living beings.
The paranoia of the film adds to the tension of the scenes, but the real horror comes when the alien attacks. After one of their companions appears to suffer a heart attack, they use the defibrillator on him. Just as one of the men brings the paddles down, the unconscious man's stomach opens up like a mouth and bites the other man's arms off.
7 Dallas' Death - Alien
Alien has maintained its reputation as one of the greatest horror movies ever made thanks to its suspenseful pacing and iconic movie monster. The movie finds the crew of a spaceship becoming prey for a deadly creature who continues to evolve and kill.
As the ship's captain, Dallas, hunts the creature in the air ducts, the crew watches the motion detectors showing the creature moving closer to him. As he makes a mad scramble to safety, he takes one wrong turn and comes face-to-face with the screaming alien. What makes the scare so shocking is we had thought Dallas was the hero of the movie, but he is killed off just like that.
6 The Tall Man - It Follows
It Follows is one of the most inventive horror films in recent years. It centers on a young woman, who after having sex with a man, learns she has been cursed and will be hunted by a relentless entity. The entity stalks its victims by simply walking slowly towards them, which is surprisingly unnerving.
As the young woman barricades herself in her room, hoping to avoid the entity, she hears banging on her door. The door opens to find it is just her friend, but suddenly a tall, ghastly man walks out of the shadows. It is a rare jump scare that just uses the terror of the moment to sell the scare rather than heightened music.
5 Jason Lives - Friday The 13th
The Friday the 13th series is one of the longest-lasting horror franchises around. It is also responsible for giving us Jason Voorhees, one of the biggest horror icons ever. Though the machete-wielding killer doesn't appear in the first film, his quick appearance provides one of the most famous moments.
Most of Camp Crystal Lake's residents had been murdered by Jason's mother, who wanted revenge on the people who let her son drown. After killing Mrs. Voorhees and ending the massacre, the hero Alice is seen in a boat on the lake when the corpse of Jason emerges from the water and grabs her in one final scare.
4 Hospital Hallway - Exorcist III
The Exorcist is one of the most celebrated horror films of all time, but the films that followed in the series were not as well received. Exorcist III is no exception, as it is largely a forgettable and unnecessary sequel. However, even its harshest critics have to admire this expertly-filmed scene with a truly memorable scare.
Set in a mental hospital, we follow a nurse around as she checks various rooms and locks up for the night. The camera takes a voyeuristic look, watching her from down the hall as she locks the final door. But as she turns to leave, a figure in a white sheet suddenly charges at her from the room.
3 From The Grave – Carrie
Stephen King is responsible for a lot of great horror movies and Carrie is one of the most successful adaptions of his work. The film follows the titular timid high school outcast who develops telekinetic powers which she uses to punish those who have wronged her.
After Carrie massacres the entire school prom, she presumably dies in a fire. Sue, a classmate of Carrie who tried to be nice to her, visits Carrie's grave at the end of the film. As Sue pays her respects, a hand suddenly reaches out of the grave and grabs Sue. It's a heart-stopping way to end a movie.
2 The Newscast – Signs
Though there are some aspects people have issues with, M. Night Shyamalan's Signs is an effective thriller when it wants to be. The film is so quiet and builds so slowly that when things start getting really creepy, it is all the more shocking.
With rumors of aliens invading Earth, Merill (Joaquin Phoenix) begins obsessively watching the news broadcasts. In one particular scene, he watches footage of a child's birthday party as people scream and look out the window. Suddenly, an alien slowly walks across the screen in a creepy and expertly done scare.
1 The Head - Jaws
Jaws is not only called one of the greatest horror movies ever made, but also one of the best movies of any genre ever made. The shark in the film is one of the most effective horror creatures in cinema history and provides plenty of scares throughout the movie. But the biggest scare comes without the shark on screen
As Hooper is investigating a sunken boat, he notices a shark tooth in the ship's side. When he attempts to pry it out, a severed head suddenly floats down in front of him, confirming this was the shark's work. The moment comes out of nowhere and is shot is such an unassuming way that it still catches us off guard.