When you emerged as a new life-form in the world, the last thing your parents contemplated was what horror movies were currently in theaters. Yet, the scary flicks released the year you were born haunt you for the rest of your life, whether you like it or not.
This list describes the most iconic moments from horror movies released between 1975 and 2000. For those of you born during these years, the movies below and their iconic scenes are likely seared into your memory, terrifying junctures in your development that made the possibility of a monster under your bed a threatening reality. From possessed dolls to aliens to homicidal cars, the villains that give form to fear below enhance the potency of these features.
With the blockbuster hit Jaws, Steven Spielberg forever tarnished the great white shark's reputation by turning the misunderstood fish into a giant, man-eating monster. The hungry beast torments residents and vacationers on Amity Island until police chief Brody (played by Roy Scheider) and marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) recruit the Captain Ahab of shark hunters, Quint (Robert Shaw), to help.
The trio go out to sea on Quint's boat Orca, baiting the shark with chum in hopes of somehow destroying it. They realize they are up against a behemoth when Brody has a close encounter while shoveling fish parts overboard. In a quick, effective scene, the shark's head breaches the surface and then plunges back underwater. "I think we need a bigger boat," Brody proclaims.
Sissy Spacek gives a harrowing performance as Carrie, a mocked and maltreated teenager who realizes she has telekinetic abilities. Carrie's persecution, from both her peers and religiously fanatical mother, comes to a head when a bucket full of pig's blood rains down upon her when she's crowned prom queen.
What ensues made many high schoolers reconsider their choice to attend their customary end-of-year dance. Drenched in blood, a furious Carrie uses her powers to enact revenge upon everyone in attendance. After locking the gym doors, she dispatches her fellow students and teachers by animating objects in the room. Eventually, the room erupts into flames, and Carrie calmly walks out into the street while the attendees perish in the fire.
The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven's second feature film, is an unforgiving road-trip horror movie that borders on exploitation film. When the Ohio-based Carter family's caravan wipes out in the Nevada desert en route to Los Angeles for a vacation, they cross paths with a crazed, intergenerational family of cannibals who live off the grid in the hills.
One of the film's most ruthless scenes breaks every cringe-inducing faux pas in cinema. After assaulting one of the Carter teenagers, Brenda, homicidal brothers Pluto and Mars dispatch Brenda's sister, Lynn, and mother, Ethel, with sidearms. The brutes then capture Lynn's toddler, Katy, intent upon making a meal out of the child. It's the kind of sequence that makes anyone shudder and turn their gaze away from the screen.
The first four minutes of John Carpenter's groundbreaking slasher uses point-of-view camerawork to show someone stalking the perimeter of a suburban home on Halloween night 1963. The voyeur spies on teenagers making out in the living room and then enters the home, advancing toward a room occupied by a disrobed young woman. Suddenly, a large kitchen knife is drawn, and the woman is stabbed repeatedly.
Once outside again, the camera moves from the offender's perspective and exposes him: a young boy in a circus clown costume. So begins the epic, decades-spanning tale of serial slasher Michael Myers who, 15 years after slaying his own sister, breaks free from an insane asylum and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, IL, to finish the job while donning a terrifying and emotionless mask.