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In honor of April Fool’s Day, here are seven times stupid pranks went horribly and tragically wrong in some of our favorite horror films.

Everyone thinks of April Fool’s Day as a fun, carefree day full of harmless pranks. However, as horror movies have taught us, pranks can often have consequences, especially if someone is hurt or, even worse, killed in the process. There are so many great examples of horror pranks. But let’s look at my personal favorite pranks gone wrong in horror films.

7. Brenda Meeks – Scary Movie 3

In this horror comedy, several famous horror films are parodied.

In Scary Movie 3, the primary film that is parodied is The Ring. There is one scene in the film when Cindy (Anna Farris) and Brenda (Regina Hall) are talking when Brenda reveals that she watched the tape seven days prior, which has been resulting in several people’s deaths. Brenda’s nose begins to bleed, she has a seizure, and her hand catches fire. However, Brenda reveals these to all be practical jokes.  After Brenda enters the living room to get the popcorn, Tabitha (Marny Eng) emerges from the television and attacks Brenda.

Despite Brenda’s calls for help, Cindy does not believe her due to her previous pranks, ultimately resulting in Brenda’s death.

I know Brenda’s death did not necessarily directly result in her death, but I found her “Boy who Cried Wolf” situation to be too good not to include on this list.  If she hadn’t been such a jokester, she might have been able to get away from Tabitha, and Cindy would have come to the rescue.

6. Bill Murray – Zombieland

Here is another horror comedy I feel is often overlooked when it comes to pranks gone wrong.

In the film, the group of four, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) find themselves at the mansion of Bill Murray.  Tallahassee and Witchita actually meet Bill Murray, who has disguised himself as a zombie so that he can safely get around Hollywood. Wichita and Tallahassee decide it would be hilarious to scare Columbus and Little Rock.

This prank goes south quickly when Columbus mistakes Murray for an actual zombie and shoots him.

I think the death of Bill Murray is hilarious, but it shows how one should not pretend to be a zombie during a zombie apocalypse. If only he had revealed himself actually to be alive sooner, maybe Columbus wouldn’t have been so quick to react the way he did.

5. Sue Ann’s Bullies – Ma 

In this film, we learn about Sue Ann, AKA “Ma” (Octavia Spencer), a lonely outcast woman.

She befriends a group of teenagers after they ask her to buy them alcohol. Ma becomes obsessed with hanging out with the teens, leading one of the teens, Maggie (Diana Silvers) to wonder why she has become so obsessed with them. It is revealed that all of the teens in this group are the children of the people that played a nasty prank on Sue Ann several years prior.

The prank involved Sue Ann performing fellatio on a boy whom she thought was the guy she had a crush on, only to learn it was a joke that everyone knew about and wanted to make Sue Ann look like a fool. Once Sue Ann discovers who the teenagers are, she decides that her way of getting revenge is to harm the children of those that tormented her.

I must say, I thought this was a clever film that got a lot of unnecessary hate.  I think it is clever that the title character “Ma” would want to get revenge on a prank pulled on her not by tormenting her bullies directly but by threatening harm to their children.

This film is a great example of why you should not pull nasty pranks on the outcast kid in school.

4. Michelle Mancini and Natalie Simon – Urban Legend 

The students at Pendleton University are horrified to discover that some of their classmates are being murdered.

To be more specific, they are being murdered in the same fashion as many famous urban legends. The only witness to these murders is student Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt). Natalie being the only witness and person left as the last victim is no accident. It is revealed that years prior, Natalie and her former friend, Michelle Mancini (Natasha Gregson Wagner), pranked a guy with an urban legend. They drove with their headlights off, and if someone flashed them to tell them to turn on their headlights, they would chase the person as if they were going to kill them.

The man they accidentally drove off the road with this prank turned out to be the boyfriend of Natalie’s friend, Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart), who was behind all of the murders and intended to murder Natalie in the fashion of an urban legend to finally get her revenge.

This film was another really clever movie I had to include on this list. The big reveal isn’t revealed until the final act of the film, but the build-up is definitely worth it.

Maybe urban legends are something people shouldn’t mess with or use to prank others.

3. Courtney, Julie, and Marcie – Jawbreaker

This cult classic features a big prank at the very beginning of the film.

On her birthday, Liz (Charlotte Ayanna) is woken up by masked kidnappers, tied up, and gagged with a jawbreaker. She is then thrown into the back of a car. The kidnappers are revealed to be her three best friends, Courtney (Rose McGowan), Julie (Rebecca Gayheart), and Marcie (Julie Benz). The girls pop the trunk, prepared to reveal the fun-spirited prank to their friend, only to find she is now dead after choking on the jawbreaker used to gag her.

This prank has also terrified me. Can you imagine thinking that you’re being kidnapped and gagged by a giant jawbreaker when in reality, it’s just your friends pulling a stupid prank?

I always loved how dark this film was right from the beginning, but it teaches a valuable lesson: Don’t use a jawbreaker as a gag when pranking your friends!

2. Macy, Sara, Chip, and Schrader – Trick ‘r Treat

One of the stories in this horror anthology is about a group of kids, Macy (Britt McKillip), Sara (Isabelle Deluce), Chip (Alberto Ghisi), and Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), who meet another young girl, Rhonda (Samm Todd) and decide to pull a prank on her.

The group tells Rhonda about the Halloween School Bus Massacre that resulted in the death of several children. Unbeknownst to Rhonda, the group of friends dresses up as some of the dead victims, terrifying Rhonda. The prank backfires on Macy, Sara, Chip, and Schrader when the actual zombie children emerge from the water and kill them, leaving Rhonda as the only survivor.

There is a sick sense of joy that I feel every time I see this particular story in Trick ‘r Treat. Sure, the kids didn’t necessarily deserve to die because of their harmful prank, but then again, it’s a horror film, so it was absolutely necessary.

We all know not to dress up as zombie children and torment the weird girl.

1. The Bates High Prom – Carrie

There will never be a film about a prank gone wrong quite like Carrie, so it would be a crime for me not to include it in the #1 spot.

I’m sure you all know the story, but for those who don’t, here is the abridged version. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is the weird outcast in her school. She gets excited to go to prom and is even nominated prom queen, only to realize it was a practical joke and a way to humiliate Carrie and pour pig’s blood on her. The prank backfires on pretty much everyone at the prom because whether it is real or just in her mind, Carrie sees everyone making fun of her and goes into a telekinetic rage.

I wish Carrie had a happier ending and that she would have gotten to enjoy killing her bullies.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll continue to say it: Don’t bully the outcast girl in school; otherwise, there will be consequences.

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