11 Opening Movie Scenes That Will Stick With You Forever

It could be argued that the ending of a film is the most important part of the narrative. It is the culmination of every action and event that has taken place throughout the movie. Everything that happens leads up to the film’s ending scene. The finale drives the themes and messages home. It is the last chance for the film to answer the audience’s burning questions and tie up loose ends, and leave a lasting impression. As important as the ending of a film is, the opening is equally (if not more) important to the narrative.

Much like an essay or thesis, a film’s opening is the hook that draws the viewer in. If that hook does not immediately grab the viewer’s attention, the movie may lose the audience before the story begins. The opening sets up the plot, character arcs, setting, and themes, so it needs to be well constructed to culminate in a great ending. It has the incredibly difficult task of establishing a positive first impression.

Many films do achieve that, but an opening truly succeeds when it becomes something that will live inside your mind forever. So, here are 11 movie openings that will stick with you forever:

11 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper’s slasher classic has been immensely influential in the slasher subgenre of horror over the last 50 years. It follows a group of young adults on a road trip across the hot Texas landscape. The group picks up (and quickly drops off) an unsettling hitchhiker before stopping for the night at an abandoned barn house in the countryside. Soon after arriving at the dilapidated property, the group is thrust into a never-ending nightmare orchestrated by a family of cannibals.

An Effectively Creepy Opening

The opening to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre lets the viewer know right off the bat that the film is going to be a wild ride. It opens up with camera flashes of varying body parts from a corpse and the heavy breathing of the man taking the pictures.

Then, we see two decomposed bodies hoisted onto a stake as local news reports of recent grave robberies play in the background. It’s certainly an effective way to grab the viewer’s attention and a memorable way to start what is now a horror classic. Stream The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on Shudder or Tubi.

Related: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Best Kills of the Franchise, Ranked

10 Scream (1996)

Wes Craven’s first Scream film is among the highest ranks of horror films. Its meta approach to reinventing the slasher subgenre made it a standout among the plethora of slashers that came before it. It is still highly regarded among horror fans and film fans alike for its clever storytelling. This is the movie that introduced audiences to the next iconic horror villain, Ghostface, a knife-wielding maniac who refuses to let Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) escape him.

An Iconic Opening

Scream undoubtedly has one of the most iconic opening sequences in movie history. The filmmakers cleverly utilized Drew Barrymore’s star power in the film’s marketing to draw people in, just to take her character away within the first few minutes. The movie opens with Casey (Barrymore) answering the phone and being asked; “what’s your favorite scary movie?”

Shortly after realizing there actually is an intruder and not just some kid messing with her on the phone, Casey runs for her life as Ghostface relentlessly chases her. Casey is eventually caught and gutted by him and strung up on a tree for her parents to see. Stream Scream on Max.


Release Date
December 20, 1996


9 Trainspotting (1996)

Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed UK drama takes us deep into the depths of the seedy Edinburgh drug scene through the experiences of heroin addict Mark Renton, played to perfection by Ewan McGregor. The film focuses on Renton’s poor attempt to quit his drug habit and how it affects his relationships with his addicted friends, his family, and his non-age-appropriate girlfriend.

A Memorable Opening With an Iconic Speech

The opening to Trainspotting starts with one of the most memorable speeches ever put on film. Renton’s “choose life” monologue expertly sets the tone for the film while immediately drawing the viewer into the underbelly of Scotland’s drug scene. The scene starts with Renton and a few friends running down the alleyways of Edinburgh while being chased down by men in suits.

The chase is shown intermittently with shots of Renton’s friends playing soccer (football for the Brits) and shots of Renton succumbing to drugs in his rundown, nearly empty apartment. We are briefly introduced to each main character in quick moments where their personalities shine and shown that Mark Renton could not care less about choosing a normal life when heroin exists. It’s a clever scene that gets you excited to dive in while perfectly setting up the themes of the film. Stream Trainspotting on Prime Video.

8 Drive (2011)

Nicholas Winding Refn’s moody drama, Drive, follows a quiet Hollywood stuntman and mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver at night, simply referred to as Driver (Ryan Gosling). When he meets his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), the usually independent Driver falls for her and helps her take care of her son while her husband (Oscar Isaac) is in prison. When Irene’s husband is eventually released, Driver must aid him in more crimes to protect Irene and her son.

A Tense Opening

The opening sequence establishes the tense, nail-biting atmosphere that is present throughout the rest of the film. There is little dialogue spoken by the Driver, save for brief instructions he gives the criminals he will be transporting from their crime scene. Once his two passengers finally make their way into the nondescript Chevy Impala, Drive punches it into gear and demonstrates his skilled ability to out-maneuver the police.

He seamlessly skates around the cops at every close call, building the anticipation of what might happen next. Rent Drive on Prime Video or Apple TV.



Release Date
August 6, 2011


7 A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed yet controversial film A Clockwork Orange is a disturbing blend of drama, sci-fi, and crime. The movie centers around a troubled young man named Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), considered to be an extremely violent youth living in a futuristic Britain. After being convicted of murder, Alex learns of an experimental program in which convicts are trained to detest violence. If he participates, his sentence will be reduced, but his ordeals are far from over when he is placed back on the streets of Britain.

A Disorienting Opening

The film’s opening shot is a close-up of Alex sporting a creepy, sly smile. The camera slowly zooms out from his face as he sips a glass of milk and allows the people sitting next to him to come into the frame. The camera continues to zoom out for the next two minutes, revealing a long and narrow room filled with dozens of naked statues and people in white bodysuits.

Alex explains what he and his delinquent friends are doing there as unsettling music continues to play throughout the sequence. It’s quite disorienting, and not something one would forget due to the utter strangeness of the situation. Stream A Clockwork Orange on Max.

6 No Country for Old Men (2007)

Written and directed by the acclaimed Cohen brothers, No Country for Old Men is a crime thriller that follows a welder and hunter named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong.

Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss keeps the $2M that was left behind. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), on his trail as he easily murders nearly every rival and bystander in his pursuit of the money. As Moss desperately attempts to stay one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in.

A Violent Opening

NCFOM begins rather quietly with a voice-over paired with beautiful shots of the sunset and desert landscape. We see a cop load a criminal, who we later learn is Chigurh, and a strange air tank into his cop car. Once inside the station, Chigurh walks up behind the cop and begins to strangle him. The opening quickly turns violent as Chigurh brutally strangles the cop to death with his handcuffs, leaving the floor underneath them stained with blood.

He then leaves with the cop car and pulls over behind an older man. He impersonates an officer and asks the man to step out of the car, just to kill him with his pressurized air tank. The tonal shift happens so suddenly, but it’s the completely deranged faces Chigurh makes while killing the cop that will stay with you. Stream No Country for Old Men on Paramount+ or PlutoTV.

5 Children of Men (2006)

Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi drama Children of Men is set in a dystopian London in 2027. In this near future, babies are no longer being born due to an infertility crisis that has been going on for 18 years. Britain is one of the remaining civilized nations, resulting in a constant police state to manage the influx of people emigrating. When his activist ex-wife recruits him to transport a miraculously pregnant woman to the coast, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) reluctantly embarks on a harrowing journey to protect the human race.

An Explosive Opening

The film starts with our protagonist Theo entering a crowded coffee shop as a televised news report states that the world’s youngest person, an 18-year-old boy, has died. The crowd is clearly heartbroken, but the disillusioned Theo just takes his coffee and gets out as quickly as possible. He walks out into the street to take a sip of his drink just in time for an explosion to occur down the street.

The scene immediately lets the audience know that the world the film takes place in is in shambles and the human race is hanging on by a thread. It gets you thinking about how society would react if we were ever put in such a dire situation. Stream Children of Men on Starz.

children of men

Children of Men

Release Date
September 19, 2006

Juan Gabriel Yacuzzi , Mishal Husain , Rob Curling , Jon Chevalier , Rita Davies , Kim Fenton


4 28 Days Later (2002)

With a script penned by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is one of the best zombie films of all time. Set in a desolate London, the movie follows Jim (Cillian Murphy), one of the few remaining survivors after a contagious disease rapidly spreads through England, turning many into flesh-eating monsters. As the title suggests, Jim wakes up from a coma 28 days after the virus is unleashed, leaving him to soldier on with a few survivors he meets on the city’s outskirts. Together, they journey to Manchester, where a military base is supposedly zombie-free.

A Chaotic Opening

The movie starts with a bang as the animal rights activists responsible for the outbreak barge into the lab. The lab is filled with unhappy monkeys trapped in cages that desperately want out. Ignoring the scientist’s warning that the monkeys are infected with a horrible disease, the activists free the animals.

Almost immediately, the monkeys attack the activists and the scientists, leaving a massacre in their wake. The natural reaction is to feel empathy toward the monkeys who are being kept in captivity, so when they start viciously attacking the people who were there to “rescue” them, it sticks with you. 28 Days Later is not available for streaming.

28 Days Later

28 Days Later

Release Date
October 31, 2002

Alex Palmer , Bindu De Stoppani , Jukka Hiltunen , David Schneider , Cillian Murphy , Toby Sedgwick


3 Eraserhead (1977)

Even with his directorial debut, David Lynch showed audiences that he was not interested in making films that could be easily interpreted. He made it clear right from the get-go that his films are best to experience rather than to understand. Eraserhead is certainly an experience that is best enjoyed when not trying to decipher the many meanings that could be behind it.

It follows a hapless factory worker named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) who discovers he is the father of a mutated baby while on vacation from work. His angry, unsatisfied girlfriend moves in, only to move out again shortly after giving birth, leaving Henry to deal with the incessant cries of his inhuman baby.

An Experiential Opening

Eraserhead is an entirely black-and-white film, and it begins with a series of semi-transparent images overlapping each other. A horizontal image of Henry’s bewildered face floating around what appears to be a roughly textured planet. The camera then tracks over the planet before zooming into a large hole on the side of a container, which then leads to a man sitting in front of a window in a dark room.

It suddenly cuts back to the horizontal image of Henry as he opens his mouth to let a fetus drift out. It cuts back and forth between this and the man by the window until he finally pulls a lever that brings us out of this bizarre, dream-like state. It’s the type of strange and experimental beginning that makes it nearly impossible to leave your brain. Stream Eraserhead on Max.



Release Date
February 3, 1978

Jack Nance , Judith Roberts

1hr 29min

2 Midsommar (2019)

Ari Aster followed up his 2018 atmospheric horror hit Hereditary with the folk horror film, Midsommar. The film revolves around a grieving young woman named Dani (Florence Pugh) who decides to accompany her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), to Sweden with his friends to witness a midsummer festival in a remote village. What begins as an idyllic getaway to escape her grief turns into a sun-drenched nightmare as the locals begin forcing them to partake in unsettling rituals.

A Disturbing Opening

Midsommar opens with a scene that instantly unsettles its audience. We see firefighters walking through a smoky garage as one of them turns the ignition of the car that was left on. Through flashes of red light, a tube coming from the car is visible. The tube has been snaked throughout the house, all the way to the upstairs bedrooms, where an older couple lies motionless in their bed and a young woman wearing a gas mask connected to the tube is sitting dead on her floor.

It cuts to a wailing Dani being comforted by Christian as she mourns the loss. Between the imagery of the bodies, the guttural cries from Dani, and the knowledge of what her sister did, it’s an opening that will not leave your head. Stream Midsommar on Max.



Release Date
July 3, 2019

Ari Aster


Related: The 10 Scariest French Films of All Time

1 Martyrs (2008)

Pascal Laugier’s French Extremism horror film, Martyrs, has earned a reputation for being one of the most violent, disturbing films to come from the movement. It centers around a young woman named Lucie (Mylene Jampanoi) who was kidnapped and brutally tortured 15 years prior, when she was 12 years old. She sets out on a bloody quest for revenge with the help of her childhood friend Anna (Morjana Alaoui), who was also abused. Lucie quickly descends into madness, leaving Anna alone to live through what Lucie experienced as a child.

A Shockingly Violent Opening

Anything one may here about the ultra-violent nature of Martyrs is undoubtedly true, and the opening proves that right away. It begins rather innocently, with a family of four eating breakfast together. They discuss normal things such as school and work while they eat. The mother starts to grill her son a bit about his studies, but all seems normal. Until the doorbell rings and behind it is a woman with a shotgun.

Lucie shoots the father and proceeds to relentlessly gun down the entire family. Shoot-out scenes like this appear in plenty of movies, but what makes this one burn itself into your mind is the shockingly violent nature of the kills and Lucie’s zero hesitation in killing innocent children. Stream Martyrs on Tubi.



Release Date
September 3, 2008

Morjana Alaoui , Mylène Jampanoï , Patricia Tulasne , Xavier Dolan

99 Minutes


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