Top Five Scariest Moments in Media

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

Media has the power to inform, to entertain, to make us feel melancholy, and sometimes it has the power to terrify us.

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Frederick, aka Darth Macho on

    #5: The Title of This Week’s Episode! (Seriously, I’m a little unsure about what the topic is, and I’m a little concerned it might stir up some uncomfortable feelings. Only one way to find out, I suppose…off to download the episode!

  2. 1. Disney’s Pinocchio, as soon as we hit boys transforming into donkeys I hit the eject button on the VCR, and ran out of the room to my mom. I have never seen anything past that in the movie, and I don’t feel the need to.

    2. Creepy #63. I was 23 years old when I read this retro review, and I am not ashamed to admit that just the couple of pictures of Bernie Wrightson’s Jenifer scarred the crap out of me. I literally had some of those images freak me out as I tried to sleep that night. (Please don’t take this as a reason to not post reviews and stuff like this, I enjoy a good scare, and this was very effective.)

    3. Twilight Zone’s “To Serve Man.” I have a huge fear of not being on the top of the food chain, and this really plays into that. Plus the way they do it, “we are going to make you cattle and fatten you up” still a whole bunch of nope.

    4. Jaws, one of my favorite movies, but when Hooper goes underwater to check out the damage boat, sees the guy’s head, and then the shark… Makes me never want to wear a life vest again.

    5. A radio play from South Africa, I don’t remember the name of it at all, but it’s about a little girl who keeps seeing an imaginary friend. Girl’s mother worries, but in the end thinks it’s just a phase. The imaginary friend turns out to be the girl’s dead brother who died freeing them from their original abusive parents. Then one day after school the girl is playing with her imaginary school, and is never seen again. This is one of the most effective ghost stories, and shivers my spine with the adult fear.

  3. 5 – the movie candy man, I saw this as a kid during a friends sleep over and did’t sleep that night

    4 – Predator – that movie gave me nightmares for weeks

    3 – nightmare on elm street, the thought of having a killer invade my dreams sent me off.

    2 – IT – god damn this movie/book i still can’t stand clowns

    1 – and finally this game still gives me the shivers the first reident evil game, again I was at a friends house and he decided to play this new game he got, I was about 10 years old and for what ever reason it scared me really bad to the point where I called my mom and she had to come and pick me up. It also scared my firend to no end and he never played that game again.

  4. I really don’t remember much that scared me as a child, but two things stand out.

    An episode of Doctor Who, probably the Tom Baker series. A monster kinda like The Blob, really, really scary. I saw the episode years later, and it was just plastic with lights under it.

    The Persuaders theme: – I have no idea why, but that music scared the crap out of me as a child.

  5. Frederick, aka Darth Macho on

    Okay, I finally have my list! It took me awhile, because quite frankly, these things were so disturbing, that I sometimes have difficult time talking about them.

    5. Reagan Shot: I’m about the same age as Matthew and Stephen, and i had a similar reaction to this event. It was like the whole world was vulnerable because if someone could shoot the president of the US, no one was safe.

    4. Dawn of the Dead: I was in my teens when I was flipping channels, and came upon a movie where a swat team was moving through an apartment building and a woman burst out of an apartment screaming for help, followed by her husband, whose skin was blue-black. I knew he was going to kill her, but I was not prepared for what would happen next. I assumed, because it was TV, that the second the zombie grabbed her, the scene would cut. It didn’t. The man chomped down into his wife’s arm, and they showed a chunk of her arm rip off and into his mouth in all its visceral detail, and then he bit her neck, I think, and it was all so violent and bloody, and I COULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT I WAS SEEING! To make a long story short, I was freaked the f’ out, and have been morbidly fascinated by the zombie genre ever since.

    3. Boston Busing: During the 70’s a court, probably with the best of intentions, decided that segregated schools were bad, and forced kids to be bused to schools in other neighborhoods to counter the obvious racial inequality. The result was night after night of news footage showing frightened kids being confronted with violence as they stepped off of buses to go to school. It taught me what a cruel and awful world we truly live in.

    2. The Day After: This movie was so disturbing because I believed it was going to happen, and it probably was a legitimate fear. It also began my morbid fascination with all things apocalyptic. It was truly

    1. The Exorcist: I was really young when I watched this, and growing up Catholic, I thought for certain it was all real. I spent most of my childhood believing that the devil was going to take my family. Whenever I woke up in the middle of the night, I checked to see if my parents were possessed. To me it wasn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when. While I’ve gotten over the fear for the most part, and love the movie now, it still gives me chills.

    • Frederick, aka Darth Macho on

      To finish my thought on The Day After, I meant to say that “it was truly frightening to believe that the world could be obliterated at any moment, and that the lucky ones would be the ones that died instantly.”

  6. 5. Freddy Krueger. My earliest memory is from the age of 3 or so, seeing Freddy chasing a girl on a catwalk in some dark industrial building. I don’t remember any fear attached to that moment at that time, but as I got older, the idea that you could be killed in your dreams, that there was nowhere to escape, haunted me.

    4. Silent Hill (Playstation 1) – I saw a lot of horror movies and read a lot of scary books as a kid, so I eventually grew desensitized. I started actively seeking out things that might scare me. When I was 13 or 14, I played the first Silent Hill game. I played it during the day, but the creeping horror of that game had me anxious and frightened, jumping when they wanted me to jump, scared on some deep, instinctual level.

    3. What genius allows a kid under the age of 11 to watch stuff like Child’s Play? I was so scared by these movies that when I had to go outside in the dark to take the trash out, I would imagine Chuckie was either lurking under the porch waiting to stab my ankles, or that he (or something worse) was going to come running out of the woods at the far end of our back yard.

    2. The Ring – I was 17 or just-turned-18 when I saw this movie in the theater, so I’m going to count it as being a kid. The psychological horror, the unnatural movements of the ghost, the warped faces of the dead, the idea of stumbling across something that would kill you through no fault of your own, with no way to prevent it other than to doom someone else… All of this combined with the fact that I saw the movie in a crowded theater, with a teenage girl I didn’t know sitting next to me and screaming at the slightest provocation (group fear is an amazing thing), had me jumping at shadows for almost a year. I tried to desensitize myself to the terror of the movie by seeing the Japanese version, reading up about both versions online, reading the original novel… but it didn’t help.

    1. As a child, I would watch Nick-at-Nite. I liked Get Smart, I liked Superman sometimes, I liked Dragnet. I don’t know if I watched it often, but one night I caught Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The episode I watched was about a woman who found herself trapped in a windowless room. “Claustrophobia,” in some ways, has ruined my life. I was never claustrophobic before that, but after I watched it, I found myself paranoid in my grandmother’s small, windowless bathroom. Any room without an escape if the door would be stuck left me terrified. Even now, twenty years later, I am prone to anxiety attacks if I find myself trapped, and even watching movies where people crawl through small passages makes me nauseated.

  7. In 1992 I was watching the Olympics and they showed a news piece commemorating the Israeli team in Munich ’72. There is a piece of news footage of one of the terrorists standing on a balcony in a hockey mask. That image scared me to death. I can’t imagine seeing it live.

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