The Scariest Moments in Cinema Revealed
A scene from The Exorcist has topped a list of the scariest moments in film, according to new research from Empire Cinemas.
The ‘Cin-sations’ study, which was undertaken to coincide with the release of Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension on October 21, polled 2000 adults in July this year about their experiences watching horror films.
Almost one fifth of respondents said the most terrifying experience of their lives was watching a horror flick at the cinema, while 11% admitted developing a fear or phobia as a result of their exposure to the scary material.
Speaking about the findings, psychologist Dr. Dave Lewis said: “When it comes to creating feelings of terror, movie makers have a number of powerful psychological tricks up their sleeve.”
“One is to provoke what is called the ‘startle’ response. This is a primitive, inbuilt, reaction to anything unexpected and therefore potentially threatening. It triggers the audiences’ ‘fight or flight’ survival system; adrenalin floods through their bodies, their pupils widen, muscles tense, palms become sweaty, mouths go dry and pulses race.”
“By combining a startling image, such as the moment an alien bursts from Kane’s chest, with suitably fear arousing music a director can produce gasps of horror from an audience. These involuntary reactions intensify the terror for everyone.”
The five scariest moments in cinematic history are as follows:
1. Regan’s head-spinning scene in The Exorcist
2. Alien bursting out of Kane’s chest in Alien
3. The merciless stabbing on Marion in Psycho
4. Lector attacking the prison guard in Silence of the Lambs
5. The hand emerging from the grave in Carrie
The study also found that participants were more likely to be most frightened by horror films befitting of their generation. For example, over a quarter of respondents aged 18-24 voted the scene where the girls emerges from the TV in The Ring as their scariest moment, compared to only 5% of those aged over 55. Of the over 55s, 28% voted the stabbing of Marion in Psycho as their scariest film moment, compared to only 8% of those aged 18-24.
An infographic summarising key findings is below: