You know how it goes: a horror movie is wrapping up, and you're starting to get that safe feeling — that mix of triumph and relief that you made it all the way to the end credits without too much psychological damage. And just when you're about to turn on the lights and commence with cleaning up all the popcorn crumbs from the couch, BOO! There's one final scare to keep you up all night.
Here are nine of those instances — and in GIF form, just to make sure they're imprinted on your brain forever and ever.
"The Blair Witch Project" (1999)
The final moments of this DIY horror classic consist of poor Heather screaming and freaking out even more so than usual, stumbling around in the dark as she cries out for her pal, Michael the Map-Discarding Idiot. She finally catches up to him at the very end, only to find her fellow filmmaker standing completely still as he silently faces the wall ... an ominous image alluded to earlier in the film. This calls for more screaming and freaking out from Heather ... and then collapsing to the floor after being attacked by some unseen force. Shudder!
The pupil becomes the master in this adaptation of Clive Barker's short story "The Forbidden," in which graduate student Helen Lyle's (Virginia Madsen) poking around in folklore history introduces her to the tall tale of Candyman ... and turns her into an urban legend herself by the film's end. And sometimes you can summon an urban legend by chanting their name a few times, as poor Trevor (Xander Berkeley) discovers as he turns to face Helen's vengeful spirit ... and Candyman's hook. Bring on the strobe light!
Carrie White made short work of her prom, a few cars and a gas station before turning her psychic fury onto her Bible-thumping mama and really bringing the house down. Even though she seemingly met her demise under all the burning rubble, Carrie's still the stuff of nightmares as she ensures that Sue Snell (Amy Irving) will never have sweet dreams for the rest of her life. You can keep your damn flowers, lady!
"The Descent" (2006)
It looked like Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) was home free. After falling down a hole and being knocked unconscious, she came to and managed to climb up a huge pile of bones towards daylight, squeezing through a narrow opening and finally escaping from the cave chock full of creepy-crawly creatures. She ran to her car and sped off, pulling over momentarily to throw up all over the side of the road. And BAM! There's Juno (Natalie Mendoza), her husband's mistress whom she supposedly left for dead, quietly judging her from the passenger seat. For the love of God, NEVER GO SPELUNKING.
"The Evil Dead" (1982)
Poor Ash (Bruce Campbell). He thought he was rid of the demonic forces that destroyed his friends and wrecked his cabin. Unfortunately, burning the Naturon Demonto in the fireplace only served as a pause button, as the film ends with Ash getting smacked in the face by some unseen evil. And so one of our great horror movie heroes — and human punching bags — was born.
"Friday the 13th" (1980)
Y'all remember that it's actually Jason's mom who's the big baddie in the first "Friday the 13th" movie, yah? The first summer in Crystal Lake ends with Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) and Alice (Adrienne King) engaging in mortal combat by the water, during which our young heroine manages to decapitate the psycho lady with her own machete. Alice then climbs into a canoe and falls asleep on the water (hey, why not?), where she's later awakened by the calls of the police on the shore. Alice comes to, only to be attacked by a decayed Jason, who pulls her into the briny deep. It ends up being a dream (a trope that the series will end up using and abusing muchly over the years), though one that sets up what will become one of the most iconic horror villains of all time.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)
Freddy Krueger's final victim in the very first "Elm Street" movie isn't another hapless teenager but rather one of their parents: specifically, Marge (Ronee Blakley), the mother of our heroine, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp). Marge appears well and sober as she promises her daughter that she'll stop drinking, seeing her off as Nancy joins her pals in Glen's (Johnny Depp) convertible. However, the pattern of the car's roof is revealed to look a lot like Freddy's trademark sweater, and as a screaming Nancy is driven off, Freddy's arm smashes through the window of the front door, pulling poor Marge (or an inflatable doll version of her, anyway) through the tiny opening. Whoa!
This odd but effective 'found footage' mix of zombie thriller and demonic possession tale comes to a head when television reporter Ángela (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Pablo retreat to the penthouse of an apartment building overrun with bloodthirsty crazies, where they discover the cause of all this mess: Tristana Medeiros (Javier Botet), the poor Patient Zero of a virus that's the equivalent of being possessed by the devil (or something). Tristana, left for dead by the Vatican agent who tried in vain to cure her, is now a horribly emaciated wretch, one that makes short work of the reporters — particularly Angela, whom she drags screaming into the darkness. To be continued, natch.
They thought Skeet Ulrich was dead. They were wrong ... at least for a couple of seconds. Good night, killer!