The Scariest Scenes in Cinema

Robert Mitchum made a career out of playing the role of the pious predator. The tough guy actor starred in J. Lee Thompson’s Cape Fear in 1962. After a decade in prison, Mitchum’s sleazy ex-con, Max Cady, stalks the family of the attorney (Gregory Peck) who sent him to jail, intent on seducing the man’s young daughter (Lori Martin) and wreaking havoc on their lives. Mitchum plays the role with a seething, quiet menace, which makes his final assault on the family all the more tense and terrifying. Cape Fear arrived on Blu-ray today, and we wanted to celebrate the occasion by taking a look back at some of the other scariest scenes in cinema. Check out a few of our favorites (horror and non-horror alike), below. Tell us yours?

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is filled with nail-biting moments. The hallway sequence where Danny meets the creepy, supernatural twins is captured with pitch perfect suspense thanks to Kubrick’s use of steadicam. Throughout the movie, the camera becomes an uneasy, all-knowing presence. In one memorable scene, Danny silently rides his trike down the hallway. The sound of the wheels across the floor, along with the piercing score, tells us that something terrible awaits him around the corner — and when the tracking camera hesitates and apprehensively follows him, we brace ourselves. The appearance of the twins sends Danny into shock, but it’s those moments before the reveal that makes the scene truly scary.