A jump scare in a horror movie might make you spill your popcorn. A monster brought to life via special effects might send shivers down your spine. But what does it take to truly get under your skin? For many of us, the answer is words.
Words have the power to communicate unsettling ideas, showcase demented minds at work, and unleash terrors locked away in our own imaginations. Whether it’s an eerie passage in a book or a creepy line of dialogue in a movie, words are often what make the real scares happen.
To illustrate, we’ve put together this list of the scariest quotes of all time, drawn from books, movies, and perhaps the most frightening source of all, the Bible. So turn on all the lights in the house, pull up the covers, and read these unforgetable scary sayings… if you dare.
Note: Looking for a spooky saying to put on a tombstone for Halloween? We have a separate article for that.
Scariest Quotes From Literature
It’s no surprise that many of the scariest quotes ever come from books and poems. Before Stephen King and creepypastas – indeed, before horror was even a genre – authors have been scaring the bejeezus out of readers with their chilling use of language.
- “Hope not ever to see Heaven. I have come to lead you to the other shore; into eternal darkness; into fire and into ice.”Inferno (Dante Alighieri)
- “Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.”Macbeth (William Shakespeare)
- “Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk.”Robert Bloch
- “O little one,
My little one,
Come with me,
Your life is done.
Forget the future,
Forget the past.
Life is over:
Breathe your last.”Abarat (Clive Barker)
- “Some teeth long for ripping, gleaming wet from black dog gums. So you keep your eyes closed at the end. You don’t want to see such a mouth up close. before the bite, before its oblivion in the goring of your soft parts, the speckled lips will curl back in a whinny of excitement. You just know it.”The Ritual (Adam Nevill)
- “Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
‘Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, ‘art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.'”The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe)
- “I laugh maniacally, then take a deep breath and touch my chest – expecting a heart to be thumping quickly, impatiently, but there’s nothing there, not even a beat.”American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis)
- “Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”Dracula (Bram Stoker)
- “Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.”I Am Legend (Richard Matheson)
- “Walls have ears.
Doors have eyes.
Trees have voices.
Beasts tell lies.
Beware the rain.
Beware the snow.
Beware the man
You think you know.”Songs of Sapphique (Catherine Fisher)
- “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”The Tempest (William Shakespeare)
- “We ask only to be reassured
About the noises in the cellar
And the window that should not have been open.”The Family Reunion (T.S. Eliot)
- “There are horrors beyond life’s edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man’s evil prying calls them just within our range.”The Thing on the Doorstep (H.P. Lovecraft)
- “Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…”Antigonish (William Hughes Mearns)
- “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”Knock (Fredric Brown)
- “Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ’em off for a coupla stones.”The Diviners (Libba Bray)
- “I am like a small creature swallowed whole by a monster, she thought, and the monster feels my tiny little movements inside.”The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)
- “Blood is really warm,
it’s like drinking hot chocolate
but with more screaming.”Zombie Haiku (Ryan Mecum)
Scariest Quotes From Movies
Most films are associated with a single line of dialogue – they’re made that way to capitalize on marketing. In the case of horror movies, the sound bites we remember most are (of course) the scary ones.
- “We all float down here… you’ll float too.”It
- “Save your tears. I’ll reap your sorrow slowly. I have centuries to discover the things that make you whimper.”Hellraiser
- “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you
Three, four, better lock your door
Five, six, grab your crucifix
Seven, eight, gonna stay up late
Nine, ten, never sleep again.”A Nightmare on Elm Street
- “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”The Fly
- “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”Silence of the Lambs
- “I see dead people.”The Sixth Sense
- “When the Jews return to Zion
And a comet rips the sky
And the Holy Roman Empire rises,
Then you and I must die.
From the eternal sea he rises,
Creating armies on either shore,
Turning man against his brother
‘Til man exists no more.”The Omen
- “Sometimes dead is better.”Pet Sematary
- “Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can’t savor all the… little emotions.”The Dark Knight
- “Oh yes, there will be blood.”Saw II
- “I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply evil.”Halloween
- “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”Dawn of the Dead
Scariest Quotes From The Bible
Want to read a really scary book? Check out the Book of Revelation, with all its descriptions of end times and the mind-warping monsters that accompany it. But as the following examples show, that’s far from the only part of the good book that gives people the chills.
- “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”Revelation 13:18
- “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.”Mark 9:43
- “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.”Revelation 12:3-4
- “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”Hosea 13:16
- “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking toward those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”Luke 21:25-26
- “And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth; They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads; They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes; During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.”Revelation 9:3-6
- “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”Revelation 6:8