First impressions matter. That rings true in cinema more than real life. The director needs to establish quickly what the role of the character is and who they are in the first few seconds or risk losing audience interest. A well orchastrated introduction can become a movies most memorable moment and become as iconic as some of the performances that follow them.
10. Dr. Frank N. Furter
The seemingly endless parade of impersonators prove the popularity of this character, and his defining moment his is grand entrance. The audience is already feeling a sense of elation and confusion following the introduction of Furter’s menagarie of oddballs as they lure the straight-laced Brad and Janet into their mansion with a rendition of the now over-played ‘Time Warp’, but that doesn’t lesson the big reveal as Tim Curry arrives in foot tapping style in his elevator, makes a gaudy introduction before whipping away his cloak to unleash one of cinemas most iconic wadrobes.
9. King Kong
They call him the king for a reason. Ann Darow is chained to the posts, oblivious to what the audience already knows: ‘He’ is coming. This is a classic build-up. The thumping stomp, followed by another. The tress crashing to the ground until the final one is ripped from the screen to reveal the biggest damn ape you’ve ever seen. Darrow lets loose an ear piercing scream. An introduction that hasn’t lost it’s sense of shock and wonder no matter how times it’s been replayed and remade.
8. Harry Lime
For the majority of the running time for the awesome thriller ‘The Third Man’ the characters talk about Lime, but we never see him. This is because everyone assumes he’s dead – it’s the reason the story kicked off to begin with. For about an hour we get to hear about Harry Lime’s exploits as a charming cad and grifter. And then when Joseph Cotton’s protaganist confronts the shadowy figure following him, a light clicks on revealing the mischievous grin of Orson Welles. Just as Cotton’s shock at seeing Lime alive lasts just long enough for him to vanish again.
7. Bruce the Shark
Thank goodness that damn prop broke! Spielberg was all about creative solutions, meaning that ‘Jaws’ was filled with POV shots, glimpes, shadows and our own damned imagination. Even after everything we’d built up in our minds about the terror that lurks just below the surface it’s still startling and frightening when that razor filled mouth lunges out of the water. Then comes the classic line…
6. Alexander DeLarge
Confrontational is the key here. The titles screens are simple – bold colours filling the screen as the music begins to filter in. As the music builds and swells over the title cards we suddenly cut to Malcolm McDowell, white colllared, bowler hat and fake eyelashes wearing the most devilish grin ever captured on camera. Seeing this visage on a cinema screen, larger than life and staring down at you, is an experience rarely captured by directors. The sense of outright dread caused in a moment of film.
Anyone who has spent more than twenty seconds in my company knows I love Batman, and he has many great entrances I could justify including on this list. Moments such as when he first appears hanging upside-down in ‘Batman Begins’, bends a shotgun out of shape in ‘The Dark Knight’ are all awesome, but his first appearance in a modern interpretation in Burton’s ‘Batman’ is the winner. Silently dropping onto the roof with wings spread wide, ambushing the muggers and quickly taking them out before delivering the line that would become his most repeated catchphrase.
4. James Bond
There is no doubt that whenever a new actor dons the tuxedo to deliver this line this moment in cinema flashes through their mind. How much they want to match that calm, deadpan delivery and the effortless cool, something that must get more and more difficult with every film that passes. The most famous spy (which possibly makes him the unsuccessful spy) in the world is first brought to us in his element – a casino. A drink in front of him, a bevy of girls, we see the lighter click open and moveup to reveal “Bond…James Bond.” A legend is born.
3. Darth Vadar
As much as I enjoy ragging on George Lucas (and I really, really, really do), the work he produced when the studio still kept him on a short leash is worthy of the praise it’s recieved. The entrance of the original big bad is a prime example of how to introduce a villian. The music is perfect, the clinically white storm troopers all snap to attention as the giant, black clad and caped masked figure strides out of the smoke. He doesn’t even need to say anything. There is no doubting, not for a moment, that this is a man you do not fuck with.
2. Captain Jack Sparrow
Already a visually striking character already – the quintessential rock star pirate – placed standing tall and proud on the mast of a ship with the dawn breaking behind him. Such a stunning image nobody pauses to wonder why the sun seems to be rising a second time. The impact is then juxtaposed with the pirate climbing into a tiny ship that is rapidly sinking, finishing the pieces of the puzzle that is Capt. Jack Sparrow. The carefree glide into port and step onto the jetty caps off a perfect moment.
1. The Alien
With the increasingly long stream of sequels and spin-offs, the initial impact of the alien from ‘Alien’ has been lessened for modern audiences. You have to stretch your imagination to before the creature was plastered on funny shirts, tacky film posters, video games and spoofs to appreciate what a shock this was. Kane (John Hurt) had been frenched by a scuttling monster but everything had returned to normal – until he started choking and writhing in pain. A burst of blood and it appears – one of the most horrifying creatures in cinematic history. Even in it’s baby form, it’s still a nightmare.
Bonus: Aragorn Opens Some Doors
This short moment from ‘The Two Towers’ was the scene that inspired me to put together this list, but due to the criteria I set out it got dropped. So here it is – the most manly way anyone has every opened a door ever.