Focus on these words with your full attention. Read these sentences carefully, slowly, deliberately, thinking of nothing else. Because, as you read them, and they draw you into a serene state of calm THERE’S A MONSTER RIGHT BEHIND YOU!
Okay, yeah, we get it, jump cuts don’t really work so well in print, but man are they great on screen. Even when you totally see one coming, like with the “horrible thing suddenly appears in the mirror” trope, a great monster, ghost, or serial killer popping into frame is a unique, visceral, cinematic experience. One that can even make you forgive an otherwise bad horror movie.
To celebrate that seat-leaping, heart-racing, gasp-inducing trick of the thriller trade, the folks over at Burger Fiction have put together a montage of 40 of the best jumpcuts in movie history. Now there’s no way to do this without leaving some out, and we’re sure many of you will be disappointed that one of your favorites didn’t make it, but this is still a very good list. And, if we’re being completely honest, even though we knew every scene was going to have something awful come out of nowhere, it got us almost every single freaking time.
Here are our five favorites that they included.
5. Large Marge Scares Pee Wee in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
If you saw this as a kid and try to claim now that it didn’t scare you, then you, my friend, are the real monster. Firstly, that movie is sneaky nightmare fuel. And secondly, Large Marge was horrifying. The whole scene is set up perfectly, with the nighttime hitchhike pickup, the darkness and ominous music, and the recounting of the accident, all before we find out a demon ghost is driving.
4. Footage of the First Alien Sighting in Signs
There was a time when M. Night Shyamalan made really creepy, quality films (I swear), and Signs is one of those movies. The best scene is when Joaquin Phoenix’s character is watching TV in the closet and the news breaks in with the first known footage of an alien, shot at a children’s party in Brazil. It’s somehow tense and funny, with Phoenix yelling at the kids in the footage to “vamanos,” and then—boom! Alien! It feels real, and I remember the whole audience in the theater gasping the way Phoenix did on screen.
3. The Lake Scene of the Original Friday the 13th
Our heroine has survived, Pamela Voorhees is dead, and now we’re just out on the lake for a serene start to the new day, one that will be free of bloodshed and murder, when dead child monster Jason leaps out of the water and ruins everything. This one still gets me.
2. Carrie’s Hand Comes Out of Her Grave
Two and three on our list are basically the same exact gag (this came first), but this one was scarier because with all of the bizarre stuff going on in Carrie it seemed way more possible as not just a dream than Jason’s appearance did. I can’t discuss this moment without having a physical reaction, because I vividly remember the first time I watched Carrie as a kid. It was about three in the morning, and that damn hand popping out ruined my life for at least a week.
1. Ben Gardner’s Head Scares Hooper in Jaws
Has to be number one because this is the jumpcut that never, ever stops being scaring the crap out of me. What the hell was shark expert Hooper thinking going into the water at night anyway? Why did we have to see this? What happened to poor Ben’s hat? I think Jaws is a perfect movie, and this is the scariest moment of the entire film.
Okay, so you heard mine, but now we want to hear from you. What’s your favorite scary jumpcut? Pop into our comments below and tell us. Oh, and good luck sleeping tonight.
Featured Image: Buena Vista Pictures