film The All-Time Best Jump Scares in Horror Movies  

Christopher Shultz
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List Rules Vote up your favorite horror movie jump scare

Jump scares: they're the bane of some horror movie fans' existence and for good reason. When used ineffectively, jump scares are nothing more than cheap jolts. They're no more impressive or memorable than that a quick jaunt through a decent haunted house. But when used appropriately, the jump scare can create some of the most startling scenes in horror movie history.

Good jump scares make some horror films unforgettable. Who can forget Jason Voorhees's magnificent debut in the original Friday the 13th? Or Dallas's unfortunate meet-up with the xenomorph in Alien? Or the utterly terrifying jump scare from The Exorcist III (you know the one).  

If you love horror movie scenes that make you jump, this list of the best jump scares is sure to delight (and terrify).

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12 people just voted on Insidious, The Face of Fire


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This scene from Insidious feels a little like one of those "when you see it..." photos come to life. The only difference, of course, is that you don't have to search at all to see the creepy face looking over someone's shoulder, because it's RIGHT THERE!
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The Conjuring, Clap-Clap


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The Conjuring uses a lot of jump scares and stings. This one, featured in the film's trailer, is solid because of its simplicity. No loud or jangling music cue, no explosives of any kind, just two hands appearing from the darkness and clapping. 
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Mama, She's Mad


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There are quite a few intensely creepy scenes in Mama, but this one takes the cake. The eerie, almost hypnotic flowing of the creature's hair, the unnatural length of her arms, and then her rapid movement toward the little girl all combine for one unnerving scare.
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The Descent, Night Vision Crawler


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Long before the found-footage horror craze, The Descent made effective use of the POV night vision camera jump scare with this first glimpse of the film's monster, dubbed the Crawler. Unlike some stings that emerge from an otherwise quiet scene, this one jumps right into the panic fray and hits the acceleration button. 
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REC, 360 Spin


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Many jump scares operate under the basic premise that something unnatural or unsettling appears seemingly out of nowhere, and that's exactly how this one from REC plays out. A full 360-spin around a room reveals nothing out of the ordinary... until the camera makes it all the way back around.
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9 people just voted on Friday the 13th, Jason's Last Hurrah


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Protagonist Alice (Adrienne King) just decapitated the crazy, vengeful mother (Betsy Palmer) who was out to kill promiscuous camp counselors, since a group of them had let her son Jason drown years ago. Now, Alice floats in the still-as-glass lake. The police arrive. The music on the soundtrack is serene and beautiful. The nightmare is over.  

But no... the nightmare is just beginning! 
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The Ring, Discovering Katie's Body


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This jump scare's effectiveness comes by way of juxtaposition. In the scene, Rachel (Naomi Watts) speaks with her sister Ruth (Lindsay Frost) about the death of Ruth's daughter Katie (Amber Tamblyn). It's the day of the funeral, and as such, the women talk in low, grieving voices. There is no score in this scene, just the two women speaking to each other. Then, in a flashback so quick you might miss it if you blink, we see Ruth opening her daughter's closet door, revealing Katie's corpse within. With a musical shriek on the soundtrack, this is a truly jarring moment in a scene that is otherwise calm and almost lulling.
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Alien, Dallas Meets the Xenomorph


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A masterclass in suspense-building, this famous scene from Ridley Scott's Alien continues to jolt audiences to this day. It was particularly shocking to viewers in 1979, given Tom Skerritt's star-status at the time. Everyone expected him to come out the hero, but Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was the real bad-ass of this film.