Horror is a tricky genre when you get overly attached to characters as I do. Let’s face it – if you’re going into a horror movie then chances are you’re going to witness a lot of people die, and you’re not going to be happy about most of them.
While it’s shocking enough to see a character you love be heartlessly killed off, it’s even worse to sit through repeat viewings of your favourite movies, knowing that those beloved characters aren’t going to make it to the end.
With that in mind, here are the horror movie deaths that I will never get over, and still upset as much as they did the first time.
Randy Meeks in Scream 2 (1997)
Let’s start with the one that hit me the hardest, and the one that still upsets me the most – the magnificent Randy Meeks in Scream 2. I fell in love with Randy in Scream (1996). He’s a massive horror movie geek, he works in the video store, and he’s full of horror trivia which is not only fun to listen to, but also can help save lives in the horror movie world. Finally, we had to go through the trauma of seeing Randy get shot in Scream, but he survived, and made it to the sequel!
Randy’s death in Scream 2 is incredibly shocking and feels like it goes against all the rules of the horror movies that he holds so dear. It’s the middle of the day, in a crowded area of town, his friends are so close by, and Randy still gets snatched into a van and very brutally murdered – in the middle of the film! He doesn’t even survive until the final act! It’s a travesty on so many levels.
The worst part is Scream 2 is one of my favourite movies, so I watch it regularly and have to watch poor Randy die every time. While we do get a flash of Randy in Scream 3 (2000), the last two films in the franchise suffer not having Randy as a main character. His presence in the group dynamic is so obviously missing, and if they wanted to kill off a main character, I wish they would have got rid of Dewy. There, I said it.
Helen Shivers in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
I Know What You Did Last Summer tells the tale of a group of teenagers who are trying to cover up a horrible accident from the year before which saw a man end up seemingly dead. I think any death in this movie hits a lot harder because there are so few of them, with only two of our central group of four ending up dead. Rather than the usual slasher bloodbath, it’s easy to imagine a world where all our main characters made it to the end of the movie and got on with their lives.
The character who really should have survived I Know What You Did Last Summer is the amazing Helen Shivers. Played by the fantastic Sarah Michelle Gellar, Helen’s dreams of moving away and becoming a famous actress have been destroyed by what happened the previous summer. As reigning queen in the annual Fourth of July beauty pageant, Helen has to attend the ceremony to keep up appearances, with her ex-boyfriend keeping an eye out for her in the upper seating level.
Helen’s death sequence has to be one of the most drawn-out in horror, and she has to deal with a lot of obstacles in the way. First, she witnesses Barry be brutally hooked to death, and despite the fact there would obviously be buckets of blood everywhere, the police can find no trace of Barry or the hooked killer. She then has to deal with the idiot policeman being drawn into the most obvious trap ever as she’s stuck in the back of his police cruiser. She manages to escape, run the length of half the town, and eventually convince her terrible sister to let her in the shop when she’s inches away from getting hooked to death. The only good point of this entire sequence is the evil sister gets murdered, though this is an additional trauma for poor Helen.
After an extended chase around the shop, where Helene throws herself out a window(!), it’s another chase across town and down a dark alley. But, it’s all good, because in the distance Helen spots the Fourth of July parade! Surely she’s safe! Alas, Helen hears a noise at the last minute, and instead of gunning it for safety, she turns around to check it out and is cornered by the fisherman. Helen is brutally hooked to death about two metres from the rest of the town, but no one can hear her due to the parade, and honestly, it’s heartbreaking.
Eben Oleson in 30 Days of Night (2007)
30 Days of Night is a fantastic entry into the vampire arena and has done what so many vampire movies before have failed to do – it made vampires scary again! Set in Alaska, a clan of particularly violent vampires move into town right before it is set to experience 30 days of uninterrupted darkness. Not ideal for the residents of the small community, who are trapped due to the extreme weather conditions.
Most of the town inhabitants are killed off straight away, but a small contingent manages to survive by hiding in an attic. Included in the group are local sheriff Eben Oleson, and his estranged wife, Stella, who got trapped in the town after missing her last flight out of there.
Love blooms in extreme situations, and being trapped together for a month, constantly on the verge of being murdered shows Eben and Stella that life is too short for them to be apart. The couple manages to survive until daylight is literally breaking on the horizon, and the vampires decide to burn the town down to hide the evidence of their existence. Unfortunately for Stella, she’s trapped under a house with a young girl she tries to rescue, and so Eben does the only thing he can think of to save her – he turns himself into a vampire. Obviously.
While his newly-acquired superhuman strength helps him defeat the vampire leader, causing the rest of them to scatter, it also causes him to burn to death about 10 minutes later when the sun finally rises. I will never get over the fact that Eben survives an entire month only to sentence himself to death when the whole ordeal is almost over.
Newt in Alien 3 (1992)
Alien 3 was always going to have a hard job being a worthy successor to Aliens (1986), and you know what, it wasn’t. It’s a pretty terrible film as it is, but it’s impressive how it manages to cement itself as a horrible entry in the series in the opening minutes of the movie by killing off a beloved character from the previous film.
Aliens saw Ripley encounter the acid-drooling aliens for the second time after they had munched an entire colony on a remote planet. The only survivor of the colony was a young girl called Newt, who Ripley immediately takes under her wing. It’s frequently touched on in the Alien (1979) series that Ripley has a daughter that she left behind on Earth, and so taking over a motherly role for Newt makes complete sense for her character. And because Newt is such easy prey for the aliens, she is continuously in danger throughout the movie.
Ripley, Hicks, and Bishop make it to an escape ship, but Ripley goes back to rescue Newt before they leave. However, after the iconic final battle between the mother alien and Ripley in her exosuit cargo-loader, the group manage to enter cryosleep as they hopefully head for Earth. Unfortunately, Alien 3 opens with the crew’s pods crash landing, with Ripley being the only human survivor. That’s right, the whole of Aliens is about Ripley bonding with and saving Newt, and then she’s killed offscreen right at the start of the next movie. It’s a punch in the face for Newt fans, and she deserved better.
Catherine Danforth in Prince of Darkness (1987)
Prince of Darkness follows what happens when a bunch of academics get stuck in a church with the liquefied version of the Anti-God and a lot of them meet quite a nasty end. Between the liquid possessing various people by shooting itself into their mouths, and the murderous horde of homeless people protecting the perimeter and stabbing people with rusty bicycles, it looks as if the Anti-God has the odds stacked in his favour.
Among the group of academics is Catherine Danforth, who started a love affair with Brain Marsh shortly before they undertook the church-based experiment. As part of the group who are trying to figure out what the seemingly sentient liquid actually is, Catherine has to watch as the liquid possesses more and more of her friends, including her friend Kelly being turned into a melty-faced vessel for Satan.
While the survivors of the group are otherwise distracted in the final act, Catherine notices Kelly communicating with the Anti-God through a mirror, which has created a portal to allow the Anti-God to enter this world. Seeing it as their final chance to escape both the church and the Anti-God rising to power, Catherine tackles Kelly, knocking them both through the mirror portal. What makes Catherine’s death so shocking is that before she even has the chance to try and escape, the priest, who has been entirely useless up until this point, instantly smashes the mirror, trapping Catherine forever. We see a fleeting shot of Catherine reaching for the broken portal before it closes, leaving her stuck with Kelly and the Anti-God.
It’s unclear what happens to Catherine once she’s trapped on the other side of the mirror, though considering that’s where the Anti-God hangs out, it’s probably not a very nice end for her. Catherine risks her life to save her friends and the world as a whole and is rewarded by instantly being trapped in a demon realm. She was an excellent scientist and made smart decisions compared to all her pals who end up possessed, and she deserved to survive and reach final girl status.
Tatum Riley in Scream (1996)
We’re back in the Scream universe for another death that never gets any easier, and this time it’s in the form of Sidney’s best friend, Tatum. Tatum has a lot of the qualities that make a kick-ass final girl, and so to see her get taken out in the last act is devastating, especially when her own boyfriend is so heavily involved in her death.
Tatum is the best horror movie friend you could ask for. She welcomes Sidney into her home despite the fact she’s a major target of the murderer, and she’s constantly fighting her corner against Woodsboro’s less-sympathetic characters such as Gale Weathers. She’s also got a sharp wit, and her last words are her taking the piss out of Ghostface before she realises he’s about to actually murder her. And on top of all that she has an amazing collection of garish, ‘90s tube skirts that I envy on a high level.
Tatum’s death is designed to hit Sidney hard, and it hits the audience hard as well as everyone else who has died up until this point has been secondary characters. The only saving grace for this death is it’s one of the best deaths in the entire franchise. Instead of getting stabbed to death, which is the fate the befalls most Scream characters, Tatum gets her head squished in the garage door after getting wedged in the catflap mid-escape. The camera gets up close and personal with Tatum’s head as it caves in and breaks the garage door in the process. There’s no blood or gore involved, but it’s incredibly gross, and it’s a tragic end for Tatum.
Dennis Rafkin in Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
Dennis is a character it may take a little time to love, as he starts on the side of the bad guy, and only ends up trapped in the glass, ghost-infested house because he’s trying to get the money he’s owed for being involved in a nefarious scheme.
Cyrus Kriticos is a ghost hunter who hires Dennis to help him due to Dennis’ psychic ability. Cyrus then traps the ghosts to help power his house/machine so he can wield a massive amount of power. The final part of Cyrus’ plan is faking his death so he can lure his nephew, Arthur, and his family to his ghost machine house, so Dennis goes in search of his owed money and ends up trapped in the house with them.
However, once Dennis realises that the family are in danger, and the twelve nasty ghosts (well, only eleven of them are actually nasty if we’re being technical) he helped trap are in the house with them, Dennis does his best to help save everyone. He knows how dangerous the ghosts can be, knows how to use the ghost-viewing glasses so they at least know when a ghost is sneaking up on them and knows all about the enchanted glass which is covered in spells to contain the ghosts.
When both of Arthur’s children go missing, Dennis and Arthur come up with a plan to reach them safely, involving dislodging one of the enchanted glass panels and carrying it for protection. However, when they are attacked by the most violent ghosts in the house, Dennis realises the glass will only protect one of them and sacrifices himself to save Arthur.
The ghosts are understandably pissed at Dennis for his involvement in the whole scheme, and after beating the crap out of him, he gets bent in half against a corner wall, giving him a particularly gruesome death.
Dennis was never really a bad guy; he was a desperate man, with a condition he didn’t ask for, and ended up helping a horrible ghost hunter to make some money. The movie gives him a redemption arc to show that he’s a good person underneath it all, who just got involved with the wrong people. When it comes time to make the final decision, save Arthur’s family, and stop Cyrus from his evil scheme, Dennis doesn’t think twice about sacrificing himself. This makes his death hit a lot harder than it would have if he’d died any other way.
Sasha Thomas in Urban Legend (1998)
If you’re a fan of slasher movies, then you get pretty used to the fact that most of the characters are nothing but fodder, only there to be killed off in increasingly nasty ways. In Urban Legend, they make this a bit easier to handle by making most of the main group of college kids pretty unlikeable people.
Our final girl Natalie has friends who do things like trying to forcibly kiss her in a car in the middle of nowhere and feeding their dog beer, as well as a roommate who constantly has sex and hogs the internet. To be honest, we’re not sad to see any of them go.
But Sasha, played by Tara Reid, really does nothing to deserve getting axed to death just because she has the misfortune of being friends with Natalie. Sasha is a DJ at the college radio station and hosts a call-in show to help the student body deal with their sexual problems. She’s sex-positive, promotes safe sex, checks out the Karma Sutra in her spare time, and is a refreshing change from how women who enjoy sex are typically portrayed in horror movies.
Sasha even makes the smart decision to leave the house party finale location which the killer is sure to be lurking at for a shift at the radio station. Unfortunately, the killer’s list is predetermined, and he follows her to the radio station and stalks her with an axe while her cries for help are broadcast live on the radio.
After running around a radio station which apparently has no other people or security staff in it, Sasha is murdered just as Natalie shows up to help her. Out of all the people in this movie, Sasha definitely does nothing to deserve her fate, and her death isn’t even fun or unique enough to make it worthwhile.
Clear Rivers in Final Destination 2 (2003)
In the Final Destination (2000) series, there aren’t many characters that survive till the end of one movie, let alone appear in a sequel, but Clear Rivers manages just that. As one of the survivors of the original plane crash, Clear went through a lot in the first movie alone. From almost being blown up in a plane, to watching all her friends die, and then believing they had broken Death’s pattern only to be proven wrong with a massive swinging sign, Clear probably earned the right to survive.
Maybe Clear could have lived a little longer, but Final Destination 2 brings a whole new group of people who manage to cheat Death when Kimberly has a premonition about a huge crash on the highway. The group soon figure out that avoiding Death isn’t as easy as it seems, and a quick bit of research suggests this has happened before to Clear and her friends. In a bid to get some assistance, the group track down Clear, who has checked herself in a psychiatric hospital, hoping that life in a padded room will protect her from anything that might accidentally kill her if a deathly breeze decides to sweep through the room.
Clear is understandably hesitant to get involved with the whole dodging Death thing again, but when another member of the group dies, she checks herself out of the hospital and decides to help. After watching a few other people die horribly, Clear accidentally causes an oxygen explosion at the hospital, killing herself and a fellow survivor in a skin-bubbling scene that’s very reminiscent of Alex’s premonition death from the first movie.
While spending the rest of her life locked in a hospital to avoid Death probably wouldn’t have been the best choice, watching Clear have to go through the pain and fear of battling death twice is pretty traumatic. It’s even worse to see her die in the same fire-based way she probably would have been killed on Flight 180.
Christine Brown in Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Drag Me To Hell is a movie where the ending traumatised me so much, I’ve been reluctant to watch it again ever since I went to see in the cinema. Considering that was ten years ago, I think it’s safe to say this movie had quite an effect on me.
Christine Brown works in a bank as a loan officer and is desperately trying to get a promotion ahead of her horrible coworker. Christine is incredibly nice, which doesn’t work in her favour in the cut-throat world of finance, and she, unfortunately, chooses the wrong day to prove to her boss that she can make tough decisions. When she denies an elderly woman, Sylvia, a third extension on her mortgage, Sylvia steals a button from Christine’s coat and places a curse on her with it.
Christine tries to apologise Sylvia but discovers she has died. So she spends the rest of the movie being tormented by various encounters the demon Lamia as she tries to figure out how to get rid of the curse. Eventually, she discovers that if she gifts the button to someone else, living or dead, she can pass the curse on to them. In the sweetest moment of revenge, Christine decides to dig up Sylvia’s remains and gift her the curse, and considering Sylvia can’t fight back; it seems like the perfect plan. Watching Christine stand soaking wet and victorious above Slyvia’s grave appears to make everything she went through worth it. She’s proving that she’s stronger than she thought and you can tell she’s going to come out of this a changed person.
So when the film closes with Christine discovering she used the wrong envelope in the grave and therefore is still cursed, it’s a punch in the teeth, the gut, and everywhere else you can think of. As her boyfriend looks on in horror, Christine falls onto the train tracks and is dragged through the stones by hands from Hell. This is doubly disturbing because not only does Christine die, she’s also doomed to be tortured in hell forever. It’s not the ending she deserves after the trauma she’s already gone through, and I know her fate was right there in the title, but damn – it’s devastating.