A new study by website Play.com has revealed that The Shinings Here’s Johnny scene is officially the scariest scene in horror. 10,000 users were polled to pick their top ten favourite horror films based on which ones frighten them the most, and of those votes an official top ten horror films of all time were created.
The study then used heart rate monitors to find out which scenes from that top ten delivered the strongest, and most effective scares. The most frightening scenes were calculated by identifying the percentage increases in film-goers’ heart rates from spikes occurring at the same moments.
The Shining’s Here’s Johnny scene came out on top, with a 28.2% jump in heart rate, and this scene was closely followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street’s moment when Nancy brings Freddy Krueger from her dreams to the real world, this scene raised heart rates by 26.7%. The third scariest scene came from my all time favourite horror film, The Exorcist. The scene where Christine MacNeil goes into the attic to investigate a strange noise raised heart rates by 24.8%.
However, while The Shining came out on top with the scariest scene, the film which kept heart rates raised for the duration was The Exorcist. The study showed that while The Shining scared people more based on a particular scene, it was The Exorcist which frightened viewers the most as an overall film experience. However, when adding the scores of the scariest scenes together, The Shining again came out on top.
“It’s interesting to see just how close the top three films’ scare ratings were,” said Shingo Murakami, managing director of Play.com’s Japanese owner, Rakuten. “It seems The Shining’s extended periods of tension and soundtrack kept viewers’ hearts racing throughout, but simply couldn’t match the massive terror induced by Freddy Krueger’s multiple gruesome murders or The Exorcist’s explicit exorcism.”
Top 10 scariest films voted by Play.com users (scariest moment and scariest film scores combined)
The Shining (1980)
The Exorcist (1973)
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Ring (aka Ringu) (1998)
The Silence of the Lambs (1990)
Three scariest moments from the top three
• “Here’s Johnny” scene (28.2% increase in average heart rate)
• Twin girls scene (“Come and play”; 23.1%)
• “Red rum” scene (21.0%)
A Nightmare on Elm Street
• “Fight fire with fire” (where Nancy Thompson brings Freddy Krueger into the real world from her dream; 26.7%)
• “No way out” (where Johnny Depp’s character, Glen Lantz, is murdered by Freddy and his bedroom fills with blood; 26.2%)
• “A bloody mess” (where Tina Gray is murdered by Freddy in front of her boyfriend Rod Lane; 26.2%)
• “Attic noises” (where Christine MacNeil investigates a strange noise in her attic; 24.80%)
• “Take me!” (Father Karras is possessed and sacrifices himself; 23.66%)
• “I cast you out” (the initial exorcism attempt by Father Karras and Father Merrin; 18.33%)