10 Brutal Horror Movie Openings Nobody Saw Coming

We expect plenty of carnage in horror films, but not this soon out of the gate!

Martyrs Movie
Wild Bunch

In the eyes of many, the first fifteen minutes can make or break a horror film. If the atmosphere isn't quite there, or the sense of unease hasn't been built up correctly, it's likely that audience members aren't going to fully submerge themselves in the terror.

As a result, many horror filmmakers choose to kick off proceedings with a bang. Dishing out swift, sharp shocks to ensure that audiences are firmly bolted to their seats for the remainder of the film's runtime.

With the likes of the Scream and Saw franchises making expert use of this approach, it's a tried-and-true tactic that helps to get the audience on board with even the most lackluster of sequels. And whilst it certainly may be an expectation within the genre these days, there's still plenty of gloriously gruesome horror movie openings that can blindside unsuspecting audience members if they're not on guard.

And we're not just talking about cheap jump scares here. Instead, we're focusing on the insanely violent or deeply disturbed introductions that signaled to everyone in attendance that literally anything could happen at any given moment. The openings featured here today are some of the nastiest that cinema has to offer, and are likely to leave you feeling cold all over.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

10. A Killer Party - Ghost Ship

Martyrs Movie
Warner Bros. Pictures

You all knew this one was coming, but it's just so shocking and iconic that there was no way we couldn't include this.

First impressions of Ghost Ship's opening would lead you to believe you're watching an Old Hollywood-style film, complete with lavish costumes, sets, and music. Everything seems completely serene and wholesome, as an elderly man takes a young girl by the hand and they begin dancing to the band performing on stage.

Said loveliness is soon thrown overboard however when out of nowhere, a steel wire comes loose from its spool and whips itself across the dance floor, slicing up every guest in attendance. All aside from the little girl, who is just simply too short to be in the wire's death radius. All she can do is watch is watch as those around her bleed to death whilst trying to recover their missing body parts.

It's without question the reason why most people even remember Ghost Ship, as it's such a hard-left turn for the film to take, given how serene and calm the first couple of minutes are. It's just a shame that the rest of the film doesn't quite manage to live up to the iconic opening.


UK based screenwriter, actor and one-half of the always-irreverent Kino Inferno podcast. Purveyor of cult cinema, survival horror games and low-rent slasher films.