What makes a death in a horror movie “cool”? Is it the blood, the gore, the absurdity, and the absolute wildness of it? Ab-so-lutely! But it can also be about how impactful it is, how downright iconic it has become, or even how damn scary it is. Things can be cool for so many different reasons that it’s virtually impossible to set parameters for what makes something “cool.” So, I won’t.
- “I’m so hungry” — Slither (2006)
- A traveler’s worst nightmare — Final Destination (2000)
- The Pale Lady — Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
- Goth girl sex — Urban Legend (1998)
- Tina’s gravity-free murder — A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
- “It’s moving right towards you!” — Alien (1979)
- No, Casey … it was Mrs. Voorhees! – Scream (1996)
Instead, I’ll follow the Supreme Court’s opinion on pornography and simply say, “I know it when I see it.” And really, that’s all you can do. Why do we enjoy watching Jigsaw rip someone’s face off in Saw? Why do we like seeing Leatherface ram a chainsaw through someone’s groin in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Why do we find these things so cool and interesting to watch? Who knows. All I know is that they are, and that’s enough for me. So, here are seven undeniably cool deaths in horror movies. They might not be the scariest or the most famous. .. but they sure are damn cool.
James Gunn is best-known for his blockbuster superhero films like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but in 2006 he released a low-budget horror movie called Slither. The movie was a throwback to classic body horror movies of the 1980s and featured lots of ooey-gooey-slimy-fleshy grossness. Slither managed to earn stellar reviews, even from high-brow publications like the BBC and the Los Angeles Times.
In the movie, an alien parasite lands on Earth after hitching a ride on a falling meteorite. Its mission is to breed, using humans as birthing vessels for its slug-like alien brood. The coolest death in the movie happens to poor Brenda. Impregnated and chained up in a barn, she’s now the host to thousands of alien slugs.
Constantly hungry, Brenda eats and eats and eats as the slugs grow inside her. Before long, she’s the size of a shipping container, trapped helplessly by her own size. When the slugs are ready to hatch, they literally burst out, causing Brenda to explode like a balloon. It’s body horror at its best. It’s super gross, but also insanely cool to watch.
At the start of Final Destination, a group of students board a 747 bound for Paris. But shortly after takeoff, the plane hits severe turbulence, which (somehow) causes an electrical fire that leads to an explosion that blasts a hole in the side of the plane, sucking out entire rows of passengers. Finally, the entire plane explodes into a giant ball of fire, engulfing everyone in flames and burning them to a crisp.
There’s something so undeniably captivating about plane disasters. Hell, there’s literally an entire series called Mayday that’s been on for literally 20 years and does nothing but recount aircraft accidents. Flying 30,000 feet above ground, going over 500 mph, all while trapped in a metal tube, is incredibly unnatural, and our brains know it. We can’t help but wonder (and worry) every time we step foot in a plane. But that fear is also what generates such interest. We simply can’t stop being fascinated by plane disasters, and that’s why the opening scene of Final Destination, which depicts the explosion of a plane just after takeoff, remains so ungodly terrifying.
For a PG-13 horror movie, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark deserves credit for creating one of the coolest and creepiest scenes we’ve seen in recent horror history. In the scene, a teenager named Chuck is trapped in a nightmarish hospital and is being followed by the “Pale Lady,” a giant, malformed, blobulous woman. She kills Chuck by hugging him closely, slowly absorbing him into her body.
Is it the most terrifying scene in horror history? No, but for a PG-13 horror movie that came out in 2019 (a year when we weren’t getting any good horror movies), it was oh, sosatisfying and genuinely grotesque. It also proved that Scary Stories wasn’t just some overgrown Nickelodeon movie, but rightfully deserved its place in the horror genre. The film became an unlikely hit, grossing over $104 million at the box office.
Urban Legend is a controversial entry in horror history. Some people like it, while others think it’s schlocky. Personally, I love it, and you should too. It’s a unique take on the slasher genre where the killer’s MO is murdering people based on classic urban legends. The craziest, creepiest, coolest, and most sadistic death in the film is the “Aren’t You Glad You Didn’t Turn on the Light” kill.
As the urban legend goes, a young college student returns to her dorm late one night and doesn’t turn on the light because she doesn’t want to wake her roommate. When she awakens the next day, she discovers her roommate has been murdered, and above her, scrawled in blood, it says “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”
But Urban Legend took this tale to a whole other level as the movie’s Final Girl, Natalie, comes back to her dorm and hears her punk-goth roommate being murdered … but Natalie thinks she’s just having some really wild sex. So, before opening the door, she puts on her headphones and tiptoes to her bed without turning on the light, falling asleep while her roommate is butchered just a few feet away. It’s morbid, it’s crazy, and it feels a bit taboo, but that’s what makes it such a cool kill scene.
While Johnny Depp’s death is arguably the more famous kill scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Tina’s is by far the coolest. What fans need to remember is that Tina was the first death in the movie. We start by seeing her nightmares, thinking she’s the Final Girl, assuming the movie is going to revolve around her. But then, Freddy gets her — and as we all know, when Freddy kills you in a dream, he kills you in real life.
Suddenly, Tina starts levitating above the bed, drenched in blood, before she’s thrown onto the ceiling. It was shocking. In the 1980s, slasher movies normally started off small and the kills got crazier as the movie went on. But like much of Wes Craven’s work, A Nightmare on Elm Street wanted to shake up the standard tropes and serve as a fresh take on the genre.
Having such a wildly chaotic kill scene right at the start let audiences know this was not Halloween or Friday the 13th. This was a whole other level. Plus, the scene looks great. Nowadays, Tina on the ceiling probably would have been achieved using CGI (which is never as good), but Nightmare used practical effects to create the scene, making it look and feel incredibly real and insanely cool.
In Alien, Dallas is the second person killed by the fully grown xenomorph, but it’s the scene that really gives audiences their first good glimpse at what the alien truly looks like. Dallas goes searching through the ship’s ventilation system, hoping to kill the alien, but it turns out he’s the one being hunted.
The entire time, the crew is listening in, communicating with Dallas over their headsets. Lambert (played by the fantastic Veronica Cartwright) starts to become hysterical with fear, especially when she notices Dallas has accidentally made a wrong turn and is now heading straight for the alien. As she screams, Dallas turns and his flashlight illuminates the giant black xenomorph as it reaches out its arms to grab him. It’s horrifying, but it’s also an incredibly well-crafted scene, smartly using the claustrophobic vent system to create undeniable tension.
Fun Fact: The scene doesn’t actually show the alien kill Dallas because in the director’s cut, Dallas is still alive, being held captive in a cocoon where facehugger larvae are eating him alive from the inside. Regardless, the vent scene is scary as helland remains one of the coolest, most memorable scenes in the entire franchise.
It’s one of the most iconic scenes in horror history, and to this day, it remains just as terrifying, suspenseful, and undeniably cool as it was in 1996. As all horror fans know, Drew Barrymore is epically stalked and killed at the start of the first Scream movie. The pacing, the banter between her and Ghostface over the phone, and the sick and twisted game he plays with her worked together perfectly.
It was one of those lightning-strike moments that will never be able to be duplicated, where everything came together to create something flawless. While all horror fans can recite that scene from memory, many don’t know that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it was originally hated by Harvey Weinstein (who, sadly, ran Dimension and had involvement in tons of our favorite horror movies) and was almost scrapped. Scream also had to make several cuts to avoid receiving an NC-17 rating. Luckily, everything worked out in the end and audiences were treated to one of the coolest, most well-crafted scenes in cinema history.
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