In honor of April Fool’s Day, we count down the 10 dumbest decisions in horror — the foolish acts that costs lives but made for great entertainment.
When one thinks of the month April, one thought springs to mind… Spring! Also bunnies, stoner Christmas (aka 4/20), and Earth day. Fine, April may be a bit crowded in terms of singular thought. But April Fools’ Day is what I’m trying to get at — a “holiday” that has become a cringe-worthy exercise in terribly unfunny publicity stunts by companies and websites. I assure you, there will be none of that here. While those aforementioned companies and sites are busy making fools of themselves, let’s discuss 10 truly foolish, dumb moments in horror.
I’m going to try to avoid the obvious transgressions, such as being a teenager, having sex, going up those damn stairs instead of out the door, splitting up the group, or failing to check a listing or even doing a simple google search before taking out a mortgage on that haunted house!
10. V/H/S (2012) – I Like You
V/H/S is a found footage anthology of shorts, akin to bite-sized snuff films. In the short “Amateur Night”, friends Patrick, Clint and Shane rent a room in order to have sex with whichever woman they lure back to it, with the intention of recording the act using a small camera located within Clint’s glasses. They meet Lily, a tantalizing, albeit silent woman at a bar who says little more than “I like you”. The guys bring her back to their room, where things start to heat up as Lily initiates sex with Shane and Clint. Clint runs to the bathroom nervously, Patrick runs into the bathroom gushing blood screaming about how Lily bit him. They exit the bathroom only to find lily straddling Shane and eviscerating him. The men nervously run back into the bathroom to collect themselves, resulting in Patrick’s death and ultimately Clint’s as Lily sprouts wings and flies away with him in her clutches, revealing that she is a succubus who lures men to their deaths through the wonderful power of coitus! Let’s rewind a bit. Had Clint and Patrick run past Lily, as she was distracted devouring Shane, and out the front door, at least one, — if not both — could have survived!
9. Saw (2004) – That’s a Reach!
Saw ushered in the age of torture porn. While Europe had already established the genre with films like Saló and Cannibal Holocaust. It was time for America to take a stab at it, and that they did with Saw. We all know the story of Jigsaw and his love of introspective, creative traps meant to taunt and maim his not-so-innocent victims. Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Lawrence (Cary Elwes) are stuck in a filthy bathroom chained to separate sides of the room at the ankles. They are given short but sweet instructions, kill the other or your family will be killed. Towards the end, Lawrence receives a distressing call from his wife prompting him to haphazardly throw the cell phone he was using just out of his reach and cut off his ankle in an effort to somehow rush to her aid. Had he chilled for a bit, used the saw or his damn shirt to grab the out of reach phone, he would have discovered that his family was safe, and would be a foot richer.
8. Alien (1979) – Stay Right There!
Ah Alien, I have a soft spot for this one. Rather than gush about how this movie made me the diehard Sci-fi and horror fan that I am today, or the chest burster scene. Let’s talk about the sad, foolish deaths of Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto). Lambert sees herself cornered by a Xenomorph as it slowly creeps up on her in truly grotesque, slimy, Giger-esque fashion. Lambert basically remains motionless, nary a defense in sight. Parker shouts for her to move while Lambert stands there crying, still motionless. Parker and Lambert both bite it, marking the utterly unnecessary demise of both of these characters. Had Lambert just moved out of the way, maybe things could have been different, or a certain Xenomorph slightly crispier.
7. Prometheus (2012) – SERPENTINE!
While on the topic of aliens, I can’t forget to mention the mixed bag that was 2012’s Prometheus, serving as a sort of quasi-prequel to the Alien franchise. Weaving a convoluted story of androids, pale dudes and vagina shaped worms. Meredith Vickers (played by Charlize Theron) wins the award for unnecessary perpendicular death. After the titular Prometheus crashes into the Engineer ship, the debris starts rolling towards her a la the Indiana Jones boulder scene. Vickers continues to run IN A STRAIGHT LINE before meeting her demise. This could have been easily avoided using simple science and/or common sense, or by simply stepping to the damn side! Hell, I would’ve been happy with A Buster Keaton “Steamboat Billy Jr.” Silent movie era falling house gag. Either way, the face palm is real here, folks!
6. House of Wax (2005) – Waxing Poetic
The 2005 remake of the 1953 classic of the same name House of Wax was mostly a forgettable excuse to kill good looking people, and Paris Hilton. It does however boast some inventive kills! Without question, none of them as bizarrely idiotic and foolish as the deaths of Wade and Dalton (played by Jared Padalecki and Jon Abrahams respectively). While trying to escape the titular house of wax, Dalton comes across a number of convincingly life-like wax displays. One of these looks strikingly similar to his friend Wade. Upon closer inspection, Dalton makes the startling realization that this is, in fact, his friend and attempts to free him of his wax enclosure. How does he do this you ask? By trying to peel it off, of course! We see the hot wax peel off chunks of his face as he haphazardly tries to free his friend. Any normal person would just stop there, but not Dalton! He keeps picking at it as if it were an abscess as he clasps clumps of meat and wax from his friend’s face, all while he sits motionless — save for the tears streaming down his face as he stares in horror before having half his face cleaved off by fake Glenn Danzig. That’s what friends are for! Oh yeah, Dalton gets killed moments later.
5. SCREAM (1996) – The Perils of Automation
Scream took tried and true horror conventions and contemporized them for a new audience — poking fun at tropes like the killer always coming back for a final scare, and doing so in bitingly witty, self-aware fashion. That being said, it also gave us Tatum (Played by the stunning Rose McGowan) trying to escape Ghostface through a doggy door! Who can forget a scantily clad, braless Rose McGowan attempting to squeeze through a tiny hole in a garage door intended for someone’s canine companion, as it begins to open with her flailing about like a seal in a shark’s sharp maw? I swear I can still hear the crunch as her skull is crushed!
4. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) – Don’t Look Back
I Know What You Did Last Summer is arguably an attempt to capitalize on the success of Scream which came before it. It brandished a heartthrob heavy cast (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Ryan Philippe) and some of the most cringe-inducing writing you’ll ever hear (‘Twas the 90s after all). Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character, Helen Shivers (I know… I told you, cringes abound) begins a mad dash away from Fish Hook guy man during what has to be the most bare bones bootleg Fourth of July parade in the history of cinema. Helen cuts through an alley then abruptly stops to look behind, as thunder crashes and Fish Hook guy slashes at her indiscriminately. All of this made even worse by the 4th of July parade passing her by as this happens. Had she not stopped to look back, she could have easily hidden amongst the band covering her escape. Alas, we knew thee well Miss Shivers!
3. Get Out (2017) – Seriously man, GET OUT!
Get Out marks the directorial debut of the now ubiquitous, Jordan Peele. It tells the story of interracial couple, African-American Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Caucasian Allison (Rose Armitage). Chris is meeting Allison’s parents for the first time, one of which is a hypnotherapist. He sees his cousin Logan (Lakeith Stanfield) acting bizarrely out of character in his manner of speaking and style of clothes. Chris attempts to take a picture of his cousin, and the flash triggers him to snap out of his trance, as he yells “GET OUT” repeatedly at Chris. Allison’s family convinces him that this was due to a seizure, quelling his fears. That was your chance, man!!! Shit hits that fan after that moment. Had he ran the hell out of there then and there and gotten help, the whole crazy white people hypnosis pow wow tradition would have ceased to exist. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have gotten such a damned good story.
2. Nightmare on Elm Street Series (1984-1994) – Sleep is for the Dead
Everyone is familiar with the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The now classic tale of conflagrated serial killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) who attacks his unsuspecting victims in their dreams as they slumber using a gloved hand adorned with razor sharp knives. This whole series could basically have been avoided if everyone just stocked up on cocktails of coffee and energy drinks while Freddy was on the prowl. Granted, maybe the constant stream of caffeine may have caused their hearts to explode, but it sure beats being bashed to death while in a sleeping bag, turned into a giant cockroach and squashed, being turned into a puppet and forced to defenestrate, or having your head explode as a result of your ear turning into a weird noise-amplifying hearing aid. Good times…stay awake kids!
1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – The Fruits of Your Labor
This one may get me in trouble as the most unfathomably foolish moment on this list goes to a film that not everyone may agree can be categorized as horror. However, any movie that can produce such a gruesome death scene with just a bottle and some elbow grease can sit with the rest of the class. Not to mention the truly fantastic, and surreal character designs which invoke a mixed aesthetic of Fantasy and Horror. But alas, Pan’s Labyrinth‘s inclusion into the horror category can fill an entirely different article. Let’s get back to the foolishness.
The film’s protagonist, young Ophelia is asked to complete a number of tasks for the eponymous Pan. One of these tasks involves retrieving a dagger from the lair of a creature known as the Pale Man, who has a penchant for eating children as evident by the macabre artwork adorning said lair. Ophelia notices the Pale Man sitting at a table filled with luxurious food with a plate in front of him, totally bare save for a set of eyes. Ophelia’s three faeries fiercely warn her to leave the lair and not eat anything on the table. She of course does not listen and eats a pair of grapes. This awakens the Pale Man who grabs the pair of eyes and attaches them to his hands (in one of the most brilliant character designs I have laid my normally placed eyes on!) and chases after Ofelia. She manages to get away, but not before a pair of her faeries gets eaten. This scene just leaves you shaking your head frantically yelling at your screen “WHY’D YOU HAVE TO EAT THAT GRAPE! YOUR FAERIES ARE DEAD, YOU MONSTER!” At least that’s how my initial viewing went.
So there you have it — my painstakingly hand-crafted moments of sheer foolishness!
Horror is filled with these instances of sheer stupidity, and we are all better for them. We are now equipped to handle these moments to the best of our capabilities at the expense of a multitude of fictional characters… omelets and eggs. Godspeed friends! Which one of your favorites did I miss? Because, I KNOW that I didn’t even scratch the surface this time around. In closing, I hope I helped you avoid at least one cringe-inducing publicity stunt from a shitty company this year. Adios friends!!!!!