ByStephen Hampton, writer at Creators.co
Lover of horror and 80's divas.
Stephen Hampton

The phrase “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” doesn’t necessarily apply to these movies. In many ways, the opening scene of a film is the most crucial part, as it’s the audience's first impression. A good movie has to grab you by the throat from the very start and not let go until the credits roll. While it’s true that some of these films don’t adhere to their promises, there’s no doubt that these are terrific openings that will leave you hungry for more.

7. 'Saw II'

'Saw II' [Credit: Lionsgate]
'Saw II' [Credit: Lionsgate]

Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that the franchise has some damn entertaining openings. In fact, the reason the franchise has survived for so long is because of the macabre fascination people have with seeing how far people will go to survive, whether it be dissolving their hand in a pot of acid or chopping an arm off.

Every Saw film opens with some poor sucker trying to escape one of Jigsaw’s dastardly traps, and while all of them are pretty memorable, Saw II has to be my favorite. It’s the infamous "Venus Fly Trap," which sees a man tasked with trying to retrieve a key to unlock the facial bear trap about to slam shut. The twist is that the key is behind his eye and he’s only been given a scalpel. It’s an absolutely disgusting idea that had me wincing and cringing like a mad man. Saw II is brilliantly directed by and sets audience up for the gory rollercoaster that’s about to unfold.

6. 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'

'A Nightmare on Elm Street' [Credit: New Line Cinema.]
'A Nightmare on Elm Street' [Credit: New Line Cinema.]

The film of dear departed opens rather terrifically to say the least. It’s funny to think that the Elm Street franchise descended into self parody considering its opening minutes were so utterly unsettling. It starts within Freddy Kruger’s territory, a dream (or should I say a pipe dream, as Freddy tends to prefer the boiler room surrounded by steaming pipes?)

It’s wonderfully atmospheric and a lot of that is due to the foreboding score and creepy imagery. One of cinema's most effective jump scares is the climax to the scene, in which a shadowy Freddy suddenly appears behind Tina and grabs her. It’s a fantastically unsettling way to introduce a horror icon.

5. '28 Weeks Later'

'28 Weeks Later' [Credit: Fox]
'28 Weeks Later' [Credit: Fox]

The sequel to the -directed thriller 28 Days Later is a surprisingly worth successor. While it isn’t quite as refreshing as Boyle’s vision, it features just enough thrilling set-pieces and investable characters to make for a solidly entertaining zombie flick.

There are a number of exciting scenes dotted throughout the film, but the best is probably right at the beginning, where a family is brutally attacked by the feral undead. It’s a bold opening that introduces us to the cowardly main character who abandons his family to save his own life. The frantic editing and epic sweeping long shots of the charging horde make for heart-pumping viewing and gives you a taste of what’s to come.

4. 'Ghost Ship'

'Ghost Ship' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Ghost Ship' [Credit: Warner Bros.]

No one in their right mind would call Ghost Ship a good movie, but you can’t deny the audacity of the opening scene. We’re introduced to a luxury cruise liner where a bunch of posh people are dancing the night away merrily. But wait, what’s with that razor-sharp wire stretched out at neck-level to all the dancing couples? In one short snap the wire slices like a flash of lightning through the people on the dance floor and their decapitated bodies slowly slide away to the floor. It’s an absolute massacre that is not only highly original but brilliantly edited and directed by Steve Beck. It’s just a shame that the same can’t be said for the rest of the film, which descends into a cliché-ridden bore.

3. 'Jaws'

'Jaws' [Credit: Universal Pictures]
'Jaws' [Credit: Universal Pictures]

, the film that made everyone afraid to have a midnight dip in the sea. Steven Spielberg’s seminal blockbuster features one of the most iconic scenes in horror movie history. It’s fairly simple when put down on paper: A girl gets mauled by a shark. However, in the hands of director Spielberg it becomes a masterclass in building fear and suspense. Chrissie, the short-lived beach babe, changes her expression of joy to utter terror in one frightening swoop. Seeing her thrash about as the water around her turns crimson is the stuff of nightmares. It’s a scene that casts a dark shadow on the rest of the film.

2. 'Halloween'

'Halloween' [Credit: Compass International]
'Halloween' [Credit: Compass International]

created an enduring icon in Halloween’s Michael Myers, a stone-faced devil who knows nothing except killing. The opening of builds up our slasher antagonist to perfection. Shot almost entirely from the killer’s point of view, we bare witness to an empty house on Halloween night and Michael’s sister, Judith, flirting with her boyfriend like a scarlet woman. The suspense builds as we follow Michael’s footsteps before stabbing his sister in a violent frenzy and running out to his parents, where we discover that he is just a boy. It’s a startling revelation and a memorable opening scene that still has the power to terrify.

1. 'Scream'

'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]
'Scream' [Credit: Dimension Films]

Forget genre, Wes Craven's Scream has one of the best openings to any film ever! It completely catches you off-guard, or at least it would if it wasn't common knowledge that Drew Barrymore dies more or less straight away. It's a wonderful piece of film that escalates from an innocent phone call to murder fairly quickly, yet realistically. People like to point out that she could've hung up on the killer, but she couldn't because he threatened to kill her if she did.

You can feel the panic and terror dripping from the screen thanks to terrific writing, suspenseful directing and Barrymore's committed performance. It could easily stand alone as a great short film in its own right and is always the scene that pops into my head when talking about horror movie opening. Watch the scene below:

Which horror movie opening is your favorite?

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