10 Scariest Moments From The Jurassic Park Franchise
The original Jurassic Park was adapted from a novel that has a surprising amount of horror in it. Author Michael Crichton studied extensively to practice medicine, and it showed. The source material is full of disturbingly graphic detail. And its 1993 adaptation, though friendly towards younger audiences, was unafraid to display genuine frights. Even though Jurassic Park: The Lost World transformed the DNA of the series, those traces of horror sometimes remained.
Every time the franchise reached into its inherent nature, it was most effective. So, let’s have a look back at the scariest scenes from the series. And, naturally, spoiler warning!
10 SPINOSAURUS ATTACKS THE BOAT
There’s not much to say about Jurassic Park III that hasn’t already been complained about. It was a nightmarish production from inception, and the results show. A skeleton that looks like a Halloween toy falls on Tea Leoni. Billy survives the Pteranodon attack, for literally no reason whatsoever. And even the selected scene, in which Spinosaurus attacks a vulnerable boat, is sabotaged.
The filmmakers decided to cut between a legitimately suspenseful scene (possibly the only one in the movie) and Barney & Friends. The scene is dark and rainy, like the first two films. It also found a way to put the characters in a claustrophobic setting. The annoying signature ringtone helps the suspense, this time. It’s pretty frightening, and could actually be really effective if not for the low-hanging pun.
9 GASOLINE FOR THE INDOMINUS
This is the only scene in Jurassic World that doesn’t feel like a playful, splashy summer blockbuster. The majority of the film plays its cards face-up from the beginning. For all of its fan service, the film doesn’t want much to do with the tone of the original movie. However, after the “Indominus Rex” breaks out, there’s a striking scene that’s pretty tense. It’s the only suspenseful scene that doesn’t feel flashy, or end with some sort of joke. Owen and a fleeing park employee take cover from the Indominus.
It promptly chomps down the latter, and Owen cleverly douses himself with gasoline to remain hidden. The Indominus is hidden from plain view, with only its bloody teeth in sight, until it saunters off. The employee’s death is uniquely ruthless, and blunt.
8 WHEATLEY’S DEATH
Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom went in the opposite direction of the 2015 sequel. Instead of being a thoroughly lighthearted romp, it reduced big set pieces and jokes to a minimum. Neither film struck the balance between those tones, which strongly made the original entry so iconic. However, Fallen Kingdom didn’t feel compelled to end every scene with a punchline. So, its horror has more impact, and the director has a knack for tension.
Many of the scariest scenes in any horror movie are drawn out, allowing you to become more immersed. Wheatley’s warranted death is pretty startling. The “Indoraptor” literally tears his arm off, and swallows. Although there’s no blood, it’s a pretty shocking visual for a PG-13 movie. It’s a slow, painful death. And it’s actually followed by an effective elevator scene, wrapped in darkness and full of strobing lights. However, this scene ranks lower on the list because the villains "deserved" their deaths. This made it more satisfying than frightening.
7 SHOOT HER!
Jurassic Park is one of the most structurally sound stories ever put to film. Steven Spielberg smartly decided to satiate audiences’ craving for dinosaurs right at the onset. In fact, the opening of the film is also a swift embodiment of everything the film has to say. A caged raptor nearly breaks free, despite all precautions, and kills someone. Much like Bruce from Jaws, the predators in this film are deliberately kept in the shadows for a while.
The imprisoned raptor belts out intimidating screeches, which have since become iconic. The flashes of electrifying prods contrast with the dead of night. And the park employee that ends up in the raptor’s clutches has a drawn out death, with screams of agony. Some extreme close-ups emphasize the eyes of everyone involved—including the animal’s. It’s entertaining, to be sure, but it’s also certainly pretty scary. Especially when the victim’s body is dragged up and down against the cage, until his fingers slip free of Muldoon.
6 THE LONG GRASS
It isn’t surprising that Spielberg delivered the scariest sequences of the entire series, even in such a flamboyant sequel. The man directed Jaws, after all. In Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Spielberg wanted to make his own King Kongmovie. There’s far more adventure, dinosaurs per minute, and so forth. However, Spielberg’s eye for kinetic imagery remains. Sidhu’s iconic warning to avoid the long grass is hopeless, falling on desperate ears. Velociraptors bend the grass as they pursue the oblivious fleeing men.
This is a truly innovative tool of suspense. And when the raptors attack, the men appear to drown into the grass. The attacking predators pounce, one after another, in the darkness. The night is full of screams from both parties, a truly nightmarish scenario.
5 EDDIE’S TORN APART
This is probably the darkest the franchise was ever willing to go. After an extended action set piece, Eddie’s death is surprisingly gruesome. First one Tyrannosaurus Rex, then another, descend upon him as he attempts to rescue the core protagonists. Eddie’s trapped in his vehicle, as both of the giant predators proceed to tear it apart. Eventually, they lift Eddie into the air, and literally rip his body in half.
The scene pulls no punches and it shows everything, although there’s no blood. In fact, one of the animals tosses their half in the air for a better bite, momentarily. It’s a truly graphic scene, for such a courageous and likable character. The tragedy makes it all the more frightening. So, everyone who complained about Zara clearly forgot how viciously this series killed off a legitimate hero.
4 CLEVER GIRL
This was our first brush with a Velociraptor in full view. The opening of Jurassic Park hints at their enormous strength, nearly breaking free. It remains mostly a silhouette. Later on, this is reinforced by the shredded feeding metal. And the exposition about their intelligence makes them uniquely intimidating. It’s also what gets Muldoon killed. He believes he’s gotten the better of a Velociraptor, when in fact, it was only bait. He utters the famous line, “clever girl,” impressed. And then, we are subjected to an up-close and personal death scene, complete with some form of shaky cam.
The attack itself feels absolutely ferocious, and we know that Ellie’s life depended on Muldoon’s abilities. Moreover, Spielberg was careful enough to draw out the suspense beforehand. Muldoon spends a long time carefully preparing his weapon, before he’s eaten.
3 RAPTORS CHASE ELLIE
This is a supremely effective piece of horror. Right at the beginning, there’s a superb jump scare, the likes of which few actual horror films can muster. As soon as the lights come back on, Ellie Sattler is relieved—until Arnold’s death is revealed. The bloody stump of his arm falls all over her, which is the most graphic Jurassic Park ever gets. Even Gennaro’s death doesn’t feel graphic, because he abandoned the kids and is sitting on a toilet.
After a raptor bangs into the metal behind Ellie, the chase scene that ensues is artfully crafted. A thin chain fence rescues Ellie just in time, before she limps off, dragging metal. The established speed and intelligence of these creatures, combined with Muldoon’s death, ramp up the tension. The mechanical setting, dim lights, and injured protagonist keep up the horror throughout.
2 REXY PURSUES THE KIDS
This is arguably one of the most iconic scenes in film history. The Tyrannosaurus breakout is a surprisingly lengthy scene. There are a number of shifting elements that transform the scene enough to keep the suspense at maximum from beginning to end. It’s genius cinema, wielding Hitchcockian suspense. First, Spielberg allows the audience certain clues to establish that something large has arrived. Ripples in the glass of water; then, the bloody goat limb. Gennaro abandons the kids, who eventually come face to face with the Tyrannosaurus because of their naivité.
The animal roars constantly, and does its absolute best to tear the kids’ vehicle apart. Dark, and rainy, the only thing between the two kids and the giant predator is a pane of glass. Rexy embodies the force of nature itself. Ian Malcolm is trampled, Gennaro is eaten, Grant and Lex hang off a cliff—it’s chaos. And it’s some of the most frightening images you can give younger audiences. The only way it’s easily digestible is if they’re already a fan of the dinosaurs themselves.
1 RAPTORS IN THE KITCHEN
The only thing more terrifying than sheer massive force, is lethal cunning. The better an animal can outwit us, the more disconcerting it is. The two children, Lex and Tim, are temporarily left alone with some tasty desserts. Then, the raptors subsequently hope to have them for dinner. The kids are herded into the kitchen, fleeing the keen dinosaurs. They proceed to have a battle of wits. The children prove remarkably resourceful as they outmaneuver the hungry raptors. The camera settles in on their horrifying claws now and then. Every sound is crucial, every movement spells death.
And eventually, the kids actually confront the animals. They manage to lock one in a freezer, and wildly flee. It’s incredible how much effective silence there is throughout the scene, and the near-misses are perfectly gut-wrenching.