Alfred Hitchcock shocked audiences in 1960 with his black and white classic PSYCHO when he decided to kill of leading lady Janet Leigh in the first 45 minutes. Her death scene was considered brutal and almost pornographic in the standards of that day, but Hitchcock didn’t care. He wanted to scare and take you by surprise. Since then, many films have successfully utilized this technique of opening their films with murder and here some that had me hooked.




Definitely one of the most famous scenes in horror story, the original 1978 classic opens with a POV scene of a mysterious voyeur. We watch through his eyes as two teenagers make out while he grabs a huge knife and mask, waits for the boyfriend to leave and makes his way upstairs. He finds the girl in just her underwear, combing her hair unaware that she’s about to be stabbed to death. The biggest reveal, however, is that when the mask comes off we learn that this is merely a little boy in a clown costume who is the killer. There’s no explanation except that he’s pure “evil.”






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I was very skeptical about this sequel as I was a huge fan of the original, watching it multiple times in the theater. The sequel opens with a few survivors of an epidemic, secluded in a farmhouse. They share a dark, gloomy dinner just hoping they survive another night. After they help a child who comes knocking for help, the screen is flooded with a bright reminder that there is indeed a world outside. Unfortunately, this child may have inadvertently led a pack of infected to them, resulting in an intense bloodbath that may cause a viewer to hold their breath for too long. One survivor flees for his life with the camera chasing after him along with the flock of infected like some kind of invisible entity that’s deadlier and larger than anything we see on the screen. These first few minutes let the audience know that no one is safe and this sequel is without restraint.



The original SLEEPAWAY CAMP follows the FRIDAY THE 13TH strategy of a mysterious killer offing kids at a campground. It’s most known for the shocking revelation at the end, but the film works on its own with mean spirited characters that make it fun to watch die brutal deaths and some great one liners. The two follow up sequels aim for a more comedic approach, casting Pamela Springsteen as horror’s favorite gender confused maniac. SLEEPAWAY CAMP 3 opens with a girl walking on her way to camp, only to be chased down by a garbage truck in front of several bystanders who don’t seem to notice anything odd going on. This scene helps define the sick, twisted humor that fans, like myself, love about the series.

In a subway station in Tokyo, 54 schoolgirls hold hands, start chanting and jump in front an oncoming train. Not only that, they look happy! There are extreme close-ups of heads being crushed by the wheels and gallons upon gallons of blood pour over those waiting to board the train. This sets up a series of bizarre suicides across Japan and their mysterious link to a young group of pop stars who may be sharing hidden messages in their music and marketing. This one really sets the bar high for intense openings and might have one of the highest body counts for any opening sequence.
It’s hard to find others who love this sequel as much as I do, but this is definitely one of my all-time favorite franchises. While this one took a more meta-comedic route, it still holds one hell of an opening sequence. Like HALLOWEEN, this one opens with a POV shot from who one would presume to be Chucky, but, via a flash of lightning, we catch a reflection of something else sinister. What ensues are graphic versions of both the shower and staircase scenes from PSYCHO, ending with a young girl yelling, “You’re pissing your pants!” It’s literally the stuff of nightmares, even to the schizophrenic killer.


I pushed getting my driver’s license for over 2 years after the legal age due to a fear of driving. To this day, I still refuse to the drive on the expressway or pretty much any road that requires me to drive faster than 45 miles an hour. When FINAL DESTINATION 2 came out, I was reminded why I hate driving. A young girl has a very detailed premonition of an over the top pile up, ranging from crashing logs to motorcycle accidents. The scene seems to never end as one brutal death after another is caught realistically on screen. What makes this scene so amazingly awesome and scary at the same time is all the deaths are the result of something we know can happen. Just last year, I was driving and my water bottle fell beneath my feet and my heart stopped. Anyone who has seen this movie knows why. All the FINAL DESTINATION films have great opening sequences, but this one is the one we see whenever we’re behind the wheel.


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In 2008, VH1 held a reality show contest in finding the next Scream Queen. The winner of the show, Tanedra Howard, scored the coveted role as the opening victim of the next SAW film, which ended up being SAW 6. She plays one of two predatory lenders who are tested by Jigsaw to see who can cut off the most flesh from their bodies in order to avoid a piercing death. While she seems to carry the bigger determination for survival between the two, her opponent is more heavyset therefore carrying the advantage of providing more flesh. Like all the SAW sequels, it’s extremely gruesome with some flashy cuts, but this sequence is fun to watch as she makes a big cut to ensure her life.
Wes Craven directed the ultimate Hitchcock homage of an opening by casting Drew Barrymore, the all American blonde as his first victim. The title card literally opens with a scream and the sound of a phone ringing has never sounded menacing. Every horror fan felt like they were heard as Barrymore’s Casey Becker flirted with a stranger on the phone about scary movies until he threatens her with a deadly game. The killer taunts her as he could possibly be lurking at every door, window and even on the phone. Her death is bloody and relentless, but the discovery of her body leaves both her parents and the audience emotionally scarred.

This was released soon after SCREAM and took on a similar semi-meta approach, lacking the Kevin Williamson touch. However, this movie holds some nostalgic vibes for the 12 year old in me. Natasha Gregson Wagner opens the movie, driving to a gas station in the middle of the night and meets a stuttering gas attendant played by Brad Dourif. There appears to be something wrong with her credit card, he says so she needs to come out of her car to speak with the credit company. She steps out, picks up the phone to find no one on the line! She drives away from what she perceives to be him trying to attack her, not catching him yelling in his best Chucky voice, “SOMEONE’S IN THE BACK SEAT!!” What results is the reason why I don’t listen to Bonnie Tyler at night.
“This is the scariest story I’ve ever heard and it’s totally true.” I grew up in a family telling stories that started like this and I always believed them. Ranging from La Llorona to Bloody Mary, I was always too scared to look directly into the mirror for too long as I feared the lights would turn off and I would see someone behind me. What didn’t help with CANDYMAN is that I grew up in the surrounding suburbs of Chicago and already knew stories about Cabrini Green and all the crime that went on there. This is one of those movies that integrate real life horror with a mythos that fits in with historical events, making the film feel all too real. It’s because of this I still can’t say Candyman in the mirror. CANDYMAN opens with a college student telling a story of a babysitter who invites her side boy over for some fun, but first tells him that saying Candyman in the mirror five times will cause him to appear behind you with a hook for a hand. He freezes after the fourth time and she sends him downstairs promising him a surprise. She looks back at the mirror, says his name, turns off the light, and, in a blink and you’ll miss it moment, Candyman appears. Blood squirts from the ceiling downstairs, leaving the viewer to guess what kind of painful death she met or to wonder if the story is even true.

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