Halloween is either the best or legit worst time of year, depending on your tolerance for all things jump scares. And Michael Meyers. And sixth sense-y ghost visits. Some horror movies live or die on a collection of scenes -- or one particular bit of business that instantly becomes iconic. Celebrate Oct. 31 with a few of this year's scariest scenes along with some vintage nightmare fuel. Spoiler (and trigger) warning, obvi.
'The Sixth Sense' (1999)
Pennywise Comes Out of the Projection Screen In 'IT' (2017)
The biggest horror movie hit at the box office ever packed some serious night terror-inducing scenes. But our favorite, the one that still makes us sleep with the lights on? Is when our favorite Derry kids project an old 16mm movie in the garage and, after some creepy zoetrope-like images, Pennywise comes to life -- supersize-like -- and goes after our hero teens.
The 'Clap' Game From 'The Conjuring' (2013)
Lili Taylor's family in this excellent haunted house film likes to play a "clap" game of hide and seek. Which is fun, except when she's the only one home and a "clap clap" comes out of nowhere!
THAT Jump Scare From 'The Conjuring' (2013)
Another huge jump scare: One of the girls hears a knock from inside the wardrobe. When she cautiously investigates, her younger sister points up -- to the creepy ghoul on top of the wardrobe!
The Alien In the Pantry From 'Signs' (2002)
Before this M. Night Shyamalan thriller falls completely apart, it packs a number of intense scares. One of our favorites? The first time we glimpse an alien on Mel Gibson's roof. But the scene that really got our heart going? Seeing that creepy, alien hand reaching out from under the pantry door! Augh!
Clarice Hunts Down Buffalo Bill In 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
When Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) realizes she's in the home of serial killer Buffalo Bill, she pursues him into the basement, where she's plunged into complete darkness. We hold our breath as the killer (wearing night vision goggles) comes within touching of distance of her...
A Taste of Night Vision In '[REC]' (2007)
In this Spanish horror movie (remade as "Quarantine"), a reporter and her cameraman have somehow survived a terrifying night in a building full of zombies. And then one of them breaks the camera's light, leaving only night vision to the person with the camera. Those last few seconds...
Ben Gardner's Head Says 'Boo!' In 'Jaws' (1975)
The biggest jump scare in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster occurs when Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) does a night-time dive to look for the shark. Instead, he finds a sunken boat, never expecting a severed head to pop out of it!
That Opening Oner From 'Halloween' (1978)
"Michael...?" After young Michael Meyers' murder spree, all in one-take, we see his father unmask his son and the rest is slasher movie history.
Rachel's Nightmares In 'Pet Sematary' (1989)
Yes, a resurrected kitty and razor-wielding toddler are scary, but they're nowhere near as disturbing as the nightmare flashbacks to Rachel (Denise Crosby)'s invalid sister, Zelda. Who, incidentally, was played by a man.
The Meat Hook Scene In 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974)
If you can watch the meat hook scene without screaming (or fainting or vomiting), you might want to check if you're still breathing.
The Beginning Home Invasion In 'The Strangers' (2008)
Try not to scream/cry at the screen when Liv Tyler is completely unaware that a masked psycho is inside her house.
Crawling Out of the TV In 'The Ring' (2002)
Nearly two decades later, Samara slowly crawling out of the TV is still one of the most terrifying moments in horror films. Hands up if you were a little bit afraid of your own TV after watching this for the first time.
The Subway Demon Thing In 'Jacob's Ladder' (1990)
There are so many strange and unsettling images in this film, in which Vietnam vet Tim Robbins keeps having disturbing visions. But the bizarre demon glimpsed at the back of a subway train really haunts our nightmares.
RIP, Doc's Arms In 'The Thing' (1982)
We'd already seen a shape-shifting alien kill several of the cast, but we still screamed when Cooper (Richard Dysart) went to revive an unconscious Norris (Charles Hallahan) ... and got his arms bitten off. By Norris' stomach! *rocks back and forth under the shower for days
The Bathtub Birth Sequence In 'A Quiet Place' (2018)
Okay, so the opening scene/teaser (RIP, young kid with the noisy toy space shuttle!) is unsettling AF. Though the film's best mix of scary/nerve-wracking tension comes when one of the alien beasties invades the farm house as Emily Blunt tries not to scream mid-child birth.
The Chestburster From 'Alien' (1979)
You were expecting something else? This is classic horror from a genre-defining sci-fi staple. Ridley Scott's never designed are more perfect scene.
The Bathtub Scene From 'The Shining' (1980)
Stanley Kubrick was one very demanding, and spooky-inducing, filmmaker. "The Shining" is largely a delivery device for slow-burn, "never-sleep-again" images -- like the elevator full of blood or those damn twins. And the one that forever messes with us is, well, you're looking at it. #REDRUM.
RIP, Glen In 'Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)
Freddy loves two things: Boiler rooms and murdering teens in their nightmares. Glen got the worst of the latter, as evidenced by the infamous geyser of blood.
The Shower Scene In 'Psycho' (1960)
We both love and tremble before this iconic sequence from the Hitchcock classic.
Laurie Vs. Michael In 'Halloween' (1978)
1978 audiences literally howled and screamed as Michael stalked Laurie through her house in the climatic minutes of this landmark film. From Laurie trapped in her closet, to when Michael rises back into frame after Laurie thinks she's taken him out, the third act of "Halloween" is pure nightmare -- in a good way.
The Final Scenes of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974)
It's pure white-knuckle, "oh-God-why-did-I-watch-this?!" tension as our final girl barely escapes Leatherface and his very angry, blood-seeking chainsaw.
The Final Scenes In 'Hereditary' (2018)
Look, this whole movie is powered by "that's fu**ed up" scenes. The most eff'd up, though? That final act. Those final moments, especially, when the headless (and possessed) Toni Collette and her silhouette glide over her son and lead him to a treehouse of pure horror. Less reading, more watching this one through your fingers. With the lights on. At mid-day.