Scare Tactics: The Top Ten Quotes from Horror Movies

Shelley Duvall in The ShiningA good horror movie can scare you in myriad ways—sickening gore, unspeakable violence, shock-and-awe surprises—but nothing keeps a person up at night like a perfectly creepy line of dialogue. Here are our picks for the 10 most chilling movie quotations of all time.

1. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. They were right. It’s painless. It’s good. Come. Sleep.” (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)
Apparently life as a pod person gets a bad rap, according to the final words spoken by protagonist Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) in this hit 1978 remake of the similarly titled 1956 cult classic. Whether the Elizabeth uttering those words is really her, or just someone or something that looks exactly like her, is a conundrum that sends her colleague Matthew (Donald Sutherland) into a fiery rampage at the end of this acclaimed movie.

2. “I am your number-one fan. There is nothing to worry about. You are going to be just fine. I am your number-one fan.” (Misery)
Clearly, the Stephen King novel that serves as the basis for this spellbinding psychological chiller contained some autobiographical elements from the “King of Horror” himself; he must have channeled some overeager admirers when he penned this terrifying assurance (which screenwriter William Goldman took straight from the book) uttered by the deranged Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) to her crush, romance novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan). What a dirty bird!

3. “They’re heeeeere!” (Poltergeist)
As the young Carol Anne Freeling, Heather O’Rourke steals the show from all those aggressive trees and disintegrating faces with her immortal line. In fact, with each of the movie’s elaborate set pieces showing more cheese potential than the last, that quote is a key reason why this pretty typical haunted-house story is a cut above the rest.

4. “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” (Psycho)
Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) shares this gem with an unsuspecting motel guest Marion (Janet Leigh) while he’s showing her around the property. Even before the famous twist ending is revealed, that line underscores Norman’s eerie fixation on his apparent tormentor.

5. “What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs?!” (Rosemary’s Baby)
Rosemary (Mia Farrow) breaks down in the in the nightmarish denouement of Roman Polanski’s creepy masterpiece when the new mother’s worst fears about her prying neighbors and ambitious husband Guy (John Cassavetes) are confirmed in the demonically deformed face of her newborn child.

6. ”What’s your favorite scary movie?” (Scream)
The quote is an all-too-appropriate start to the film that pumped new life into slasher flicks with its genre-savvy subversions of viewer expectations. In context, though, it’s chilling—voice actor Roger L. Jackson’s ominous-yet-droll tone gives the anonymous caller who asks that telling question enough gleeful menace to turn it into an unmistakable threat.

7. ”There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. Perhaps she’ll die.” (The Fly)
Doomed scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) might not be at his most terrifying while he still has the power of speech, but his increasingly desperate nursery-rhyme refrain still haunts long after the goo has dried. In fact, that’s just one reason Jeff Goldblum’s performance in director David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of the 1958 sci-fi classic is one of the horror genre’s most iconic acting achievements.

8. “Heeeere’s Johnny!” (The Shining)
When Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) first relocates with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) to an isolated hotel, he acts like a well-adjusted, average-joe family man—although there’s definitely something darker lurking behind his forced cheerfulness and twinkling eyes. Jack’s gradual decline forms the plot of Kubrick’s impressionistic horror movie, culminating in the full-tilt psychotic rage behind his most famous line.

9. “It rubs the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again.” (The Silence of the Lambs)
Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) might serve as the psychotic star of this Oscar-winning classic, but his punny fine-dining references (like the one about having an old friend for dinner) just don’t tingle the spine as much as this twisted statement made by skin-suit-wearing killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) to his captive victim while fattening her up for slaughter.

10. “Have you checked the children?” (When a Stranger Calls)
“Have you checked the children?: asks Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley), an unidentified psycho on the phone who’s about to break into the house where Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) is babysitting. Sound familar? The cult film may have served as an inspiration for Scream and other scary movies, but as the killer escapes from his asylum and gets close to an unsuspecting new victim, it boasts its own wicked psychological edge.

Watch Jack Nicholson in The Shining during Stephen King Thriller Week on SundanceTV, starting Sun., Oct. 25 at 8/7c.