Muscle-bound ice sculpture Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) is quick with the ribbing when his mountain-rescue climbing buddy and his girlfriend become stranded at the top of a 4000-foot-high needle of rock. He’s suddenly laughing on the other side of his face though when metal fatigue strikes the equipment transferring the terrified girl to a nearby helicopter. While Sly dangles from the line and the girl clutches at his gloved hand, slipping inch by inch away from life, she begs and pleads for him not to let her fall. All to no avail. Heartrendingly horrible.
4.Star Trek (2009)
Faced with a hostile craft that makes his own starship look like a mouse next to an elephant, acting captain George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) orders the crew to abandon ship, among them his wife, who’s just gone into labour. To protect the fleeing lifepods he must ram the enemy vessel, but realising that the autopilot is knackered, he can only do it by piloting the ship manually. As the clock counts down to collision and certain death, a legend is born, and they name him James Tiberius Kirk. ‘I love you’ he tells his wife over the coms just before impact. Cue tears and iconic opening title sequence.
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers(2002)
As part two of the trilogy opens, a roving camera takes us back inside the Mines of Moria, where Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) met his fate in the first film. The incident is recapped, Gandalf holding a bridge against a giant fire demon – the Balrog – while the rest of the Fellowship make their escape. As the bridge crumbles, casting the Balrog towards a fathomless doom, a flick of its whip catches hold of the wizard and drags him down too. What we didn’t see in the first film is what happens next, as Gandalf and the Balrog battle it out mano a mano while freefalling for about ten minutes towards a lake set in a vast chasm deep in the bowels of the earth.
2. Predators (2010)
The screen is filled with the sleeping face of Royce (Adrien Brody), an image of gentle slumber and therefore hardly the most thrilling of openers – until we notice that his hair is being ruffled by a strong wind. Gradually his eyes open and look around him with mounting horror as he realises he is falling through the sky. From a very great height. Then he breaks through the cloud cover and sees the ground hurtling up towards him. His hands fumble at what appears to be a parachute but there’s no rip-cord. At the last second he punches a button and the chute opens, breaking what was about to be a very nasty fall. The scene is over in a flash but stays in the mind for a long time afterwards.
1. Blade (1998)
After a fleeting bit of back-story in an A&E room, the pre-credits sequence switches to some dude cruising through the night in an open-top car with hot date Racquel (Traci Lords), who takes him to a secret nightclub in the back room of a meat warehouse. The club is heaving with beautiful young things, and the dude thinks all his Christmases have come at once, until he notices the cold shoulder everyone is giving him. Trancy music is building to a crescendo when he notices something red dripping onto his hand. Then the sprinkler system opens up as the beat kicks in and the DJ box lights up with the word BLOODBATH. Cue lots of blood-soaked strobe-lit bodies and snarling fangs as he realises he’s the only non-vampire in the whole place. If it stopped here, this opener would be good enough already. But the best is yet to come, with the arrival of vamp hunter Blade (Wesley Snipes). For the next five minutes he poops the party by absolutely killing every motherfucker in the room with the exception of the witless dude, who looks on wimpering and shitting himself. Get on.