The Shining is scientifically proven to be the scariest horror movie ever

"Heeere's Johnny"! Maniacal Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 Stephen King adaptation is calculated as the most terrifying film moment of all time, beating The Exorcist and A Nightmare on Elm Street

Over the years, many a pulse has been set racing by Jack Nicholson’s maniacal “Heeeere’s Johnny!” in 1980 horror flick, The Shining. But now science has proved that the spooky adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is the scariest film of all time. 


During September, 10,000 customers on Japanese-owned website Rakuten’s were asked to vote for their most frightening horror films, with Stanley Kubrick’s thriller topping the list. A selection of viewers were then wired to heart monitors as they watched the shortlist of films, with the changes in their pulse tracked to determine which movie moment set their hearts racing the most. 

Nicholson’s iconic Shining scene – in which he takes an axe to a bathroom door before uttering the famous line – beat off all competition, prompting pulses to jump by 28.21%, with the film’s twin girls “Come and Play” moment scoring a 23.1% increase, followed by the Red Rum scene at 21%…

A Nighmare on Elm Street was proven to have the greatest physical effect overall, increasing heart rates by an average of 26.8%, but when the poll results were combined with the scores for individual scenes, it was The Shining that triumphed over its spooky rivals.

1973 thriller The Exorcist finished second, with Wes Craven’s 1984 original version of Elm Street coming in third, and Ring (aka Ringu) and Alien taking the fourth and fifth spots. 

“Here’s Johnny” faced some stiff competition from several scenes in Elm Street, with the gruesome murder of Johnny Depp’s character, Glen Lantz, prompting a spike of 26.24%, while the moment Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger is brought from dream to reality saw a 26.7% increase. 

Interestingly, the overall average increase of 25.3% (1001.1bpm) for the top three horror films – The Shining, The Exorcist and A Nightmare on Elm Street – takes the audience into the heart rate target for light exercise. So sack off the gym tonight and enjoy a spooky Halloween evening on the sofa instead…