Cosmic Horror Movies that Perfectly Capture Existential Dread

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Clinical and consulting psychotherapist, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer tells us that, “existential dread is the terror we experience in our awareness that we are transient beings acting out life on a precarious stage. It’s a phenomenon that’s universal among humans, but that varies in its intensity.” Essentially, existential dread is the result of hyperawareness of our own minuscule nature within our universe. Cosmic horror movies capitalize on this hard-to-navigate realm of insecurity and inner turmoil. When we look too closely or are too aware of something we don’t understand it can cause a break in reality and ultimately thwart our attempts to handle our own mental health. This leads us to a better understanding of why cosmic horror is such a tricky thing to tackle within the horror film industry and why it is inevitably an unqualified success or a laughable failure.

How to Translate Cosmic Horror to the Big Screen

One of the main reasons why cosmic horror writers such as Lovecraft can never hope to be fully realized on the big screen is the intangibility of existential dread. You can’t put a form to it, it is simultaneously within and without our own understanding and it’s something that Lovecraft himself aptly described within the philosophy of his own body of work.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

H.P. Lovecraft

Since the cosmic horror subgenre doesn’t rely solely on jump scares, it’s difficult to really sink your teeth into what is truly so frightening about these kinds of stories. Few movies have been fortunate enough to capture the existential dread that we get from the literary cosmic horror; these precious few examples leave us wanting more. What we end up finding when we delve deeper into trying to understand such an intangible fear, is that the fear arises from within ourselves, our paranoia, insecurities, and the emotions that these things stir up that we are nowhere near prepared to deal with.

The realization of cosmic horror is that there are these unknown, inhuman, races of beings that have inexplicably existed since times before life on Earth could boast multicellular organisms. These beings, creatures, or ancient powers don’t care about us or our existence–we are insignificant and immaterial to the grand scheme of things. This insignificance fuels our fears and results with the ultimate imperceptible terror, the unknown. Fear of the unknown has many succumb to insanity and that’s exactly what happens with the best Lovecraftian literature.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Horror Movies Poster

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

We have Stanley Kubrick to thank for making the first movie to successfully capture the vision of cosmic horror. His vision met the Lovecraftian horror requirements pretty spectacularly; while critics either hailed this movie as a boring spectacle of lights or a visionary way to explain the cosmos, one thing is for certain–Kubrick gave us a possible view into the future that we could have never before have even tried to explain. This piece is a solid example of cosmic horror that meets both our aspirations of where we could possibly go as the human race and the place we also inch towards with trepidation. Lovecraft’s writing suggested that in his world that extraterrestrials were actually his inspiration for the ancient gods or beings that societies long since passed had worshipped.

Clarke’s writing supported Lovecraft’s creative expression of the ancient ones–an idea further supported by the sequel to 2001: A Space Oddysey which was titled 3001: The Final Odyssey. The only major difference between the attitudes of Clarke and Lovecraft lies within the approach of the aliens towards humanity. Where Lovecraft features an indifferent perspective–as if humans were aphids to their godly prowess, Clarke suggests a far more amicable relationship. What really matters in this narrative though is that Lovecraftian horror elicits an existential dread which is made clearly possible in Clarke’s literary works and Kubricks eventual screen adaptation.

The Thing (1982) Movie Poster - Cosmic Horror Films

The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter is considered a master of horror and that’s a fair assessment, in his long career of horror creation he has been the main name attached to some of the most famous and most underrated movies the horror genre can boast about. His first big studio movie came to us in 1982 via The Thing and it’s also a perfect example of cosmic a cosmic horror movie. Almost forty years after its creation and it’s still a classic within this subgenre. Despite initially coming across as a monster movie, when it’s analyzed with a heavier lens, it’s clear that it perfectly fits the bill of something that’s deeper, darker, and far more intangible than just an evil monster. While The Thing (1982) does deliver the monster, it’s the actual form of this invading force that is ultimately well beyond our ability to comprehend.

We never see the monster in its true form, because it’s always shown either in the guise of one of the crew members or in its transformation to its new disguise. The monster effects were considered state-of-the-art in 1982, it may seem like they would be outdated by now, but don’t be fooled, Rob Bottin continues to enthrall us with his ability to both elicit a sense of wonder and revulsion; they also keep us in the dark just like Lovecraft himself thrived on being non-descriptive, choosing to encourage readers to envision their own, “indescribable horror.”

The bread-and-butter of the cosmic horror genre is typically that which cannot be seen, right? Well, John Carpenter gave us all a middle finger when he essentially slapped us in the face with a monster that we can not only see but one that we still can’t give a proper description of. This monster doesn’t behave in a manner that would suggest it’s a creature that belongs to our world, which leads us to believe it’s an alien. Not to spoil anything but it is the main reason that we suggest watching this movie before the prequel, of the same name, that was released in 2011. The monster (alien?) is just the tip of the cosmic horror iceberg; what the creature ultimately represents is the debilitating nature of what it means to have your entire worldview changed forever.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994) Movie Poster

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Another John Carpenter movie, albeit quite a bit more underappreciated, In the Mouth of Madness (1994) definitely did its job of inviting existential dread upon audiences. Curiously enough, while the audience experiences this indeterminable terror, so does our protagonist; we watch as his reality unfolds around him and he is exposed to the ultimate mindfuck at the end of it all. What is real? What can truly be expected in life when we don’t even know how to cope with the existence of the unknown?

Event Horizon (1997) Movie Poster

Event Horizon (1997)

This classic sci-fi movie takes cosmic horror to a more literal level, by being set in the actual cosmos. This movie is amazing because it functions on so many levels, as a mystery, science fiction, horror, and action movie. The characters on board are sent to discover what happened to the crew of a ship that had been sent to discover parts of the universe and had otherwise been missing in action for nearly a decade. After it suddenly reappears, the question on everyone’s mind is–where was the Event Horizon the entire time?

Pulse (2006) Movie Poster

Pulse (2006)

This movie is where Wes Craven finally took a crack at cosmic horror and even if he didn’t do it intentionally, he still technically did it. While this movie was basically a remake of the Japanese film Kairo (2001), it begs the question of what would happen when technology crossed paths with the other side. While the move came across as simply another American remake of a successful Japanese film, it does still make it to the cosmic horror party.

The Mist (2007) Movie Poster

The Mist (2007)

This movie brings us a psychologically traumatizing kind of fear–the kind that makes you lose faith in humanity and its ability to maintain some semblance of civility and order throughout chaos. What is really terrifying about this movie isn’t the otherworldly monsters which we get decent exposure to, it’s the characters and their inability to withstand the stress of their situation. We see the characters go through an extreme transformation in their two days of being held captive by the mist; at first cooler heads prevail, but constant fear-mongering by the town’s bible-thumping mentally disturbed resident leads a majority of them to demand blood sacrifice to appease the monsters that they believe God has sent to punish them. Classically terrifying cosmic horror that has aged well over the past decade.

The Happening (2008) Movie Poster

The Happening (2008)

This is probably the movie that least represents cosmic horror within the context of this list–since this movie deals with forces that originate on Earth, particularly Mother Nature herself, instead of an ancient being that has come to take over and extinguish our existence with little to no premeditated vision of extermination. It still fits the subgenre though, because of the inability to truly comprehend the forces at work and the feelings that we see the characters experience throughout the movie. Even though we’re left with an explanation of what our protagonists have encountered, we’re also left with this unrelenting feeling that we don’t actually possess as much control over our existence as we initially believed.

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) Movie Poster

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Perhaps its the stereotypical creepy gas station attendant, or the lack of accumulated dust on the relics in the cellar of the cabin, or perhaps it’s the pain-worshipping redneck zombies that dig their way out of the ground–this movie doesn’t walk or quack like a cosmic horror duck, at least not at first. If we discount the major hints that are dropped throughout this movie, the entire movie may end up shocking you once it reaches its finality. It stands to reason though, that if you pay attention throughout the movie you’ll be on edge and most notably creeped out by the subtle external influences at work in this complex, comical, and downright terrifying film. In the end, the character’s realization of what is really going on is what sells this movie as a true gem in the realm of cosmic horror. Not only do they go through all of the stages of grief in a twenty-minute span, but they also cross over into the realm of acceptance within the insanity that they find themselves facing.


The Thing (2011)

Even though The Thing (2011) came out almost thirty years after the original 1982 version, it actually serves as a prequel to John Carpenter’s first masterwork. More is revealed to us about this universe throughout the movie, but it’s almost like this prequel was meant to be watched after we’re already exposed to the monster and already know the havoc it can wreak within a small, claustrophobic, and insanely isolated region. In our opinion, watching this one as if it were a sequel really helps to keep the original mysterious and terrifying. So if you’re planning on watching these two movies back to back, watch this one last.

Prometheus (2012) Movie Poster

Prometheus (2012)

This movie was birthed from a movie franchise with an already extensive history, stemming from the Alien franchise that began its epic journey in 1979. The cosmic horror focus made this move unlike any of its predecessors, which all made their home in the action, science fiction, monster/alien horror, and thriller genres. We get to see the missing piece of this familiar Alien puzzle, but the Engineers weren’t exactly what was expected out of the story. It makes sense that fans of a violent and terrifying franchise wouldn’t be able to relate as well to a story that hinged on a narrative where human beings were simply a test species genetically engineered by an ancient race of beings. As a result and none-too-surprisingly, it didn’t do too well with the main following of the original franchise. So even though Prometheus (2012) was a highly anticipated movie, the fans of the original franchise weren’t too thrilled with this new cosmic horror focus of the overall story.

The Void (2016) Movie Poster

The Void (2016)

As creepy as it is confusing, this movie is a great example of cosmic horror. The creatures smack of Lovecraft’s strange influence, where there is no real ability to describe what they are. This all takes place in a pretty deserted hospital, which is creepy enough if you’ve ever seen a movie with the stereotypical abandoned and haunted medical center. All we really know when we watch this movie is that it attempts to convey the existence of evil things we can’t hope to know or understand and if that’s not cosmic horror, then we’re not sure what is.

The Endless (2017) Movie Poster

The Endless (2017)

If you’re the type that is intrigued by the psychology of cults and their idea of ascension within the context of mass suicide, then this movie is definitely for you. Outwardly it just seems like some kooky people who are looking for a form of validation through their belief system, but then we realize there are indescribable things at work behind the scenes. When we join two of the cult survivors who go back to find out what’s really going on we see that nothing is what it seems and that the mystery is hidden beneath the surface. The dread that we face from this movie is spurred by our need to know what is going on, so we sit on the edge of our seats waiting to see what our two protagonists came to find out.

Life (2017) Movie Poster

Life (2017)

It’s difficult to know whether or not a movie like this exists within the realm of cosmic horror–or if it’s just another alien movie. Here’s the thing though, even though we see the alien, monster, lifeform (or whatever you want to call it) throughout the entire movie, there is no viable way to know whether this is another evil alien, or just an uncaring being that has a predisposition to survive no matter what the cost is to another form of life. A huge part of cosmic horror is that the menacing force within the story doesn’t need to be evil–it just needs to be overwhelming and intangible, or unidentifable. Their trail of destruction needs to make you feel small, insignificant, and easily discarded.

Annihilation (2018) Movie Poster

Annihilation (2018)

If you didn’t quite understand Annihilation (2018) then you’re not the only one, but that was sort of the entire point of the movie. Even though Natalie Portman dominated this movie in her typical fashion, the movie didn’t get a lot of credit for how intensely original it was; perhaps it was because there was no determinable wrap up to the story, but no good cosmic horror story does. While the jump scares and monsters should have lent to it being an instant horror classic, the terrifying nature of what was going on inside of “the shimmer,” and the inability for people to completely understand the grand theme of utter helplessness in the face of something so large and indefinable led to a lot of people saying it was a bad movie.

In the defense of Annihilation (2018), it’s not that it was a bad movie, there are just not a lot of people who understand or appreciate the classic Lovecraftian influences that make this movie such a success. There’s nothing better than a movie that leaves us questioning everything we know about our own existence, that is the very core of cosmic horror. We see the invading force of the movie literally taking everything it encounters in its path and changing it from something we know and can easily recognize to something entirely new and foreign. Neither we as the viewers nor the characters themselves can fathom the existence of something that can literally rewrite how we define reality on our Earth. If you’re planning on reading the book that the movie was based on, don’t worry about whether or not you read it first–the movie and book hold little in common other than the name.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

H.P. Lovecraft
Bird Box (2018) Movie Poster

Bird Box (2018)

A movie that was simultaneously successful and a joke in the increasingly nihilistic attitude of today’s world; it earned its status as the most successful original Netflix film in the history of the platform, but it also caused the less intelligent people of society to take the Bird Box Challenge in an effort to take advantage of their fifteen minutes of fame. This challenge like its predecessor, the Tide Pod Challenge ended up getting people hurt and challenged a lot more people to denounce Darwinism in the face of such blatant disregard of responsible action. The social media frenzy that surrounded this movie may have been what everyone was really talking about, but it didn’t detract from the overall cosmic message of the movie.

Like any true Lovecraftian horror story, we see from the very beginning that the horror element of this entire story is the indescribable, madness-inducing truth of the evil they are facing. The perfection of cosmic horror is that the source of fear doesn’t have to be seen by the audience in order to really bring the point home. In fact, the less we see of the source the scarier it becomes, that which cannot be defined or that which cannot hope to be known speaks to our fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is one of the oldest fears to plague humanity, it harkens back to the days where our fight or flight response to dangerous situations was what kept us alive. This indescribable creature that terrorizes the survivors of the Bird Box universe is exactly what Lovecraft’s cosmic horror is truly all about–we see that just the sight of these creatures creates such a huge wave of existential dread in a person that they literally respond by committing suicide. Those who are already suffering from mental illness just see the truth of what they already know and seek to show their truth to others.

Color Out of Space (2019) Movie Poster

Color Out of Space (2019)

This take on Lovecraft’s Color Out of Space (2019) marks the first truly successful adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s writing to the screen. The original short story of the same title was noted to be Lovecraft’s favorite amongst his own short stories and can be listened to on YouTube.

Considering the failure of many of Lovecraft’s previous works being translated to the screen, this movie was both highly anticipated and doubted. Horror lovers eagerly awaited to see if it would be a true flop as all of the attempts that had come before it, or if it would actually capture Lovecraft’s vision. This undertaking, Nicolas Cage notwithstanding, was an incredibly solid effort to capture that lovely, wonderful, existential dread that Lovecraft made so popular. The jump scares in this movie are nearly non-existent, instead, we got the frightening tale that we were hoping for in true Lovecraft form.



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Could Saw Happen in Real Life?

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What If There Were a REAL Jigsaw Killer?

John Kramer was diagnosed with terminal, inoperable cancer and becomes a ruthless serial killer by name Jigsaw.  Jigsaw targets those who have not appreciated their own life, or have somehow neglected the common gifts of life and living that John Kramer has realized he is being denied. The victims of a Jigsaw death in any of the Saw movies suffer incredible pain through insanely creative mechanical traps and torture devices. The victims experience unimaginable agony as they are forced to sacrifice comfort, blood and often body parts in order to survive.  Could there be a real life Jigsaw killer? Could any human being put another through the traps and torture available throughout the horror flicks? Let’s break down what a real Jigsaw killer might be like and go from there!

What Would a Real Jigsaw Killer Look Like?

John Kramer is an elderly man, and thus has had the luxury of experiencing a near-full life. Because he has recently been diagnosed with a terminal cancer, the audience finds reason to feel sympathy for him. Similarly, John is able to have sympathy for himself given his predicament.  Because he is terminally ill and so incredibly talented in his killings, it is likely a real life Jigsaw killer would be older as well…well-learned and skilled in a mechanical trade.  While a real life Jigsaw may not necessarily be elderly, he or she most likely would be terminally ill like John Kramer.

Horror Enthusiast speculates it would require an extreme change in someone’s life, leaving them feeling broken and unable to fix themselves, in order to spawn a killer that is this sadistic in trap and torture.  Having a terminal illness (or a similar tragedy such as losing a spouse or child) also provides the self-justification necessary to proceed with the sadistic plot.

Furthermore, a real life Jigsaw killer would likely be wealthy, having done well for themselves working their way up the ladder or inheriting some degree of wealth.  This is a suggested necessary asset of a real life Jigsaw killer due to the expensive devices and traps, as well as the time needed to create such contraptions and plans.  Although it is arguable that a completely broke individual could devise and proceed with a real life string of Saw-like killings, it would most certainly be easier to accomplish with a sizable bankroll.

How Would a Real Jigsaw Killer Kill?

how would a saw murder happen

Almost everyone, whether a fan or not, has seen at least part of one Saw movie.  Whether being dragged to a movie one time, catching a glimpse while a sibling is watching it on an airplane, or becoming a full-time Saw fan and movie-addict, almost everyone knows how the death scenes go down in the Saw franchise.  Lots of blood. Lots of gore. Lots of bodies.

But more important than ridiculous pools of blood all over the movies, is the amount of metal seen in throughout the films. Metal is everywhere.  The characters are normally kidnapped and transported to a new location where they are trapped by metal barricades, doors and hatches which almost never open.  They are then forced to remove one of many devices on their body, remove an item from their body, remove parts of their body, or otherwise push themselves through immense physical pain in order to escape.  The amount of metal used in the Saw films is astronomical. It is important in trapping the victim, retaining the victim as a prisoner, and in brutally forcing the victim to kill themselves. There is no end to the cruelty these traps may employ.

A real life Jigsaw killer would be skilled in mechanical engineering, structural engineering, medicine and sciences (specifically anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physics), as well as a number of other necessities.  It would be helpful to understand electricity, psychology, and basic survival techniques, in order to devise the most creative and sadistic traps which understand a human’s thought process and their anticipated reactions to the traps.  Abandoned buildings or rooms would be required and rigged in a way to kill, only to be found at a later date (no clean up necessary). 

How Would a Real Life Jigsaw Choose His or Her Victims?

Most of his victims lack the knowledge of things one learns in a longer lifespan, thus not having the same opportunity as Jigsaw to right their own wrongs.  This unsympathetic approach is interesting given John has been diagnosed with a cancer that is killing him.  It could be speculated this is the exact reason he chooses his victims: he has no control over his fate and his life is ending, therefore develops natural disdain towards those who choose to end their life through self-abuse and self-neglect.

In the Saw movies, the youngest victim Jigsaw has targeted was a teenager (who ultimately survived).  Usually, however, Jigsaw chooses victims in their 20s, 30s or 40s. This is probably because they are more interesting to see on screen…however, in real life, a Jigsaw copycat would probably have no problem widening the range to all ages.

Have There Been Any Real Murders Like From the Saw Movies?

Yes, there have absolutely been some real life murders which resemble those from the Saw movies.  There are killers who have been inspired by the films.  There are also conspiracies to recreate many of the Saw movie scenes which were foiled before they could be hatched. There have even been rashes of prank phone calls mimicking the voice of Jigsaw.

Check out Is There a Real Killer Like Jigsaw from Saw to read about some Saw-inspired crime!

Final Words About a Real Life Jigsaw

real john kramer

Although there has not been a real life John Kramer who even remotely closely compares to the fictional serial killer, there are most definitely Saw inspired deaths.  There are also infinite possibilities and combinations for human creativity, mechanical traps, and devious plots. A real life John Kramer, Jigsaw killer is most definitely possible. A real life “Saw” is absolutely possible. History and countless murder files show that there is no limit to human cruelty. Fortunately, however, society has been spared from suffering the fate of an actual Saw movie…except for the minimal inspiration of a murder or two here and there anyway.



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Cruelest Horror Movie Deaths Of All Time

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Most Gruesome Horror Movie Deaths Of All Time

The many years of motion pictures have given us some serious gems in the horror industry. And given that there are so many horror movies, obviously there are thousands of horror movie death scenes. Some of them are going to be a little boring, while others are extremely intricate. There are weird deaths, scary deaths, realistic deaths and violent deaths.  Some of the horror movie deaths are fast, while others are drawn out and quite long. But what are the cruelest horror movie deaths of them all?  Some horror movie monsters have more kills and some just have extreme kills. Horror Enthusiast has ranked the cruelest horror movie death scenes of all time.

Cruelest Horror Movie Death Scenes Of All Time

These are the cruelest horror movie deaths of all time. They are ranked in order of most cruel to least.

most horrible deaths in horror movies scary text

blank#1 Saw III (2006)

You wake up, there’s a device strapped to your rib cage and you are suspended in the air.  There’s a large jar of acid in front of you and a key that is disintegrating.  A tape tells you that you have 60 seconds to reach into the jar of acid, retain the key and unlock the trap before your rib cage is torn apart.  There are two equal parts of this Saw death scene that make it scary: telling the victim ahead of time what is going to happen to them and that this could really happen in real life.

#2 Hostel: Part II (2007)

The Hostel movies are body horror movies about torture, so it is natural it makes the list at least once, however, this death in particular is horrifying.  Whitney, one of the tourists, is being worked on by a club member who is about to kill her with a powered saw.  He uses the saw on her skull and freaks out when it doesn’t kill her…so someone else has to take over her slaying.  There is a brief bargain over the price, since she has already been tortured by someone else first…but someone finally re-enters to finish the job at a discounted rate.  Part of what makes this death so cruel is the total disregard for the victim as a human life.

#3 Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The monster that is Hannibal Lecter may have been immortalized in 1991 for many reasons, but one of the most memorable scenes of all is his face-eating, flesh-wearing, brutal beating and cannibalistic rampage on the two prison guards keeping him in his cell.  Soon enough, the guards themselves are hung in the cell and Hannibal is enjoying his finest, most favorite meal indeed. Silence of the Lambs may be a little older of a flick, but it still ranks rather high on the list of cruelest horror movie death scenes.

#4 Hostel (2005)

This is the second time a movie from the Hostel franchise makes the list and the scene comes from the first movie in the series.  A character named Josh has his leg drilled purely for the sadistic pleasure of the killer, his Achilles tendons cut, and then as he endures the pain of trying to escape, his throat is viciously slashed.  Most people couldn’t even stand to watch the scene, however, it was absolutely cruel enough to earn itself a rather high spot on the list of cruelest horror movie deaths.

#5 Saw II (2005)

There are a number of cruel deaths in the Saw franchise and especially in the first sequel.  One specific scene details a trap that will instantly kill the victim if he does not retrieve the key and remove the trap within a minute. The only catch is that the key is located behind his eyeball, which has been sewn shut.  The trap itself is a head clamping device that is set to the “open position,” placing many of the huge metal spikes that the victim is about to be impaled by, right in front of his face.  This scene secures the Saw franchise its second spot on the list of cruelest horror movie deaths.

#6 A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Poor Sheila has suffered from asthma her entire life and normally her inhaler is able to keep it in line.  When Freddy decides she’s going to be his next victim, however, the inhaler does her absolutely no good.  This death is extremely painful-looking: Freddy gives her a kiss and sucks all of the life out of her, she is reduced to only shriveled remnants of her former self.  The rotting corpse left behind is only perceived to the real world as the asthma attack that finally killed her.

#7 Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

Carlos is a hearing impaired kid who is bunking up with a bunch of other troubled teens, also known as the main characters of this installment of the nightmare franchise.  Carlos’ death is very cruel in that it focuses on his hearing impairment. If it weren’t cruel enough that his handicap were exploited, it is by no means an easy death.  It is not quick and takes a couple of minutes.  Basically, Carlos sprouts biological-looking hearing amplifiers which allow Freddy to torture him by dropping pins from above. As the pins fall onto the metal walkways, they create painful audibles which eventually lead to Carlos’ head exploding.

#8 Final Destination 3 (2006)

The Final Destination movies have a lot of death scenes, but most of them are fairly quick deaths…which seems a little less cruel. There is one scene in the third film, however, which is suffered by Ashlyn in a tanning salon.  Unfortunately for Ashlyn, she gets trapped in a tanning bed when the heat dial is coincidentally cranked up…way up!  She dies a horrifying death in one of (what was) America’s latest greatest fads of the movie’s time.  Ashlyn did ensure Final Destination 3 made the list when death decided her number was up, LITERALLY!

blank#9 House of Wax (2005)

The House of Wax released in 2005 is actually a remake of a much older film. In this remake, there is a death scene which is extremely cruel and explains how the entire house of wax people came to be.  Wade, one of the main characters, has his Achilles tendons cut before getting all of his hair shaved off and being “waxed alive.”  The worst part is when he is discovered still alive later on by what would become another victim.  Wade dies a wax statue, presumably of the trauma, though it is never actually shown.  Even if he didn’t end up dying, everyone else in that house did, the same way he would have!

#10 Hostel: Part III (2011)

This is the third time the Hostel franchise has made the list.  In this death scene, a character named Mike is tortured before his face is skinned right off his head. Obviously part of what makes the Hostel death scenes so scary is that they could really happen in real life, however, this particular death is horrible as the skinning occurs while the victim is still alive.  This particular scene seems extremely difficult to stomach and showcases seemingly legitimately psychotic killers which are (fictionally in the movie) “around us in every day life” without our knowledge.

#11 A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors (1987)

The Dream Warriors has been often hailed as one of the best movies in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.  One of the death scenes, however, which character Taryn suffers, is extremely cruel.  Taryn is a recovering drug addict. On top of that, she has to deal with being Freddy-stalked in her dreams.  Rough life.  In one of her dreams she loses a fight with Freddy and holes open up in her arms right where she would have “shot up” back when she was using drugs. Freddy has her pinned this way as his fingers are revealed to be needles of junk.  He slams these needles into her arms and injects her, effectively killing her in the real world of a drug overdose.

#12 Alien (1979)

Before there was Life (2017), there was Alien (1979) with Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt.  In one especially easy-to-remember scene, John Hurt’s character suffers a terrifying demise when a miniature alien bursts from within his body.  Of course, the death itself only happens after watching him suffer a horrifying, painful existence, choking included.  Alien is one of the oldest movies and only sci-fi horror to make the list of cruelest horror movie death scenes.

#13 American Psycho (2000)

Patrick Bateman is one crazy psycho, literally running at his victim with a bright, silvery ax and striking him right in the melon. Of course this coming only after he calming chats with his victim and makes a few jokes.  In true psycho fashion, he continues to wail and strike the poor, obviously already dead victim. Patrick then returns to his normal, composed and well-respected behavior as if it never happened.

#14 Jason X (2001)

Jason X is often hailed as one of the dumbest Friday the 13th movies, mostly because the storyline places Jason in a spaceship some many years in the future. Regardless of how poorly the movie may have been received, it was still meant to be a serious horror flick and showcased a really screwed up death scene.  Jason takes a woman’s head and shoves into liquid nitrogen, where it is frozen (and subsequently smashed).

blankHorror Movie Death Scenes Are Getting More Intense!

There is a definite trend forming in the rising cruelty in horror movie deaths.  The classic scares of a simple, stalking slasher or a little paranoia has been far too jaded.  The horror movie enthusiasts of today prefer their movies with a little more gore and a lot of gruesome deaths.  A quick look at the release years of all of the movies for the on-screen deaths ranked above will reveal how much easier it is for a newer movie to achieve a spot on this list.  The newer the horror movie, the more likely it is to have crueler, more gruesome slayings and death scenes.



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