By the start of the 21st century, the slasher movie genre had been through the wringer. The heyday of 80s slashers and their endless sequels was long gone, and even the short-lived resurrection brought on by Wes Craven’s Scream in 1996 was withering. Audiences and filmmakers alike found themselves asking, where else was there to go with movies about a psycho in a mask offing attractive teenagers one-by-one with a variety of sharp weapons?
That question would be answered with the release of Final Destination on March 17, 2000. The groundbreaking script, based on an unused X-Files story by Jeffrey Riddick, contained all the hallmarks of the slasher genre: a group of attractive teenagers who find themselves being killed off one at a time, but this time there was a twist. There was no psycho in a hockey mask chasing these teens with a chainsaw; the killer in Final Destination was Death itself, back with a vengeance to claim those who narrowly avoided dying in a fiery airplane explosion.
The movie was a hit, and four sequels followed, with a sixth film recently reported to be in the works. The series has legions of devoted fans, but a curious lack of official merchandise available for purchase, and perhaps for obvious reasons. Horror fans can readily buy costumes and figurines of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and the like, but a franchise featuring an invisible force as the main villain presents some merchandising problems. Nevertheless, for devoted fans and collectors, there is some awesome Final Destination promotional merchandise out there.
Catch a Flight with Final Destination (1999)
The original Final Destination established the formula that has been used in each sequel: the protagonist, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) is boarding Volée Airlines Flight 180 with his classmates for their senior trip to Paris, France. He experiences a horrifyingly vivid premonition of the airplane exploding just after takeoff, and his ensuing panic gets himself and several others kicked off of the plane.
When the plane does indeed explode moments after taking off, the survivors experience varying degrees of relief, fear, and suspicion towards Alex, and perhaps for good reason. Soon, they are being killed off one-by-one in a series of apparently random freak accidents.
Much of the marketing material centered around the fateful flight that set the series in motion. In fact, the original title was Flight 180 before being changed in favor of something more foreboding. For promotional merchandise, luggage tags were created that directed recipients to the appropriately-named website DeathIsComing.com. Also given to members of the press were airplane-shaped stress balls, perfect for calming any pre-flight anxiety!
Keep on Trucking with Final Destination 2 (2003)
Three years after the first movie made bank at the box office, the inevitable sequel arrived. Final Destination 2 centered around a young woman named Kimberly (A.J. Cook) who has a premonition of a multi-car pileup and saves herself and multiple strangers from imminent death. Their relief is short-lived as Death once again quickly swoops in to correct the mistake, and this time he’s working backwards to tie up any loose ends.
In addition to the usual promotional hats and pins, a truck-shaped lighter advertising the sequel and its release date was released, calling to mind the memorable log truck that unwittingly caused the crash. Super fans may also recall a scene where Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), who is the only survivor of Flight 180 to live long enough to see the sequel, berates a passerby for lighting a cigarette near a gas pump as she and the others desperately try to avoid Death.
Say Cheese and Die with Final Destination 3 (2006)
Most of its characters may have been dead, but with two box office successes in the bag, the Final Destination series was anything but. The second sequel followed high-school student Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who avoids a rollercoaster crash along with several of her friends. Sure enough, the survivors start dying, but this time Death has left clues in the form of the pictures Wendy snapped for her school yearbook just before the crash.
With a camera playing a major part in the plot of Final Destination 3, the marketing team ingeniously had disposable cameras created featuring the movie’s poster artwork inside a clear plastic shell. Mini handheld fans with the movie’s logo were handed out at San Diego Comic-Con, a nice nod to the death of Frankie Cheeks (Sam Easton). When switched on, LED lights reveal the message “CONTROL THE RIDE” within the spinning fan blades. Shirts advertising the deadly rollercoaster Devil’s Flight were also available.
Race Against The Final Destination (2009)
2009 saw the release of the fourth and purportedly last entry in the series. Aptly titled The Final Destination, a racecar crash nearly claims the lives of college student Nick (Bobby Campo), his friends, and an assortment of other strangers. Death promised to save the best for last, and The Final Destination was given a 3D theatrical release for the first time in the series.
The marketing department certainly intended on going out with a bang, as The Final Destination received the largest assortment of promotional merchandise yet. Fans could enter to win prize packs on social media that included keychains and glass paperweights featuring the iconic shattered skull from the movie’s poster art. Also included was a multi-tool kit in a container shaped like a car’s bumper. Very appropriate.
Go Full Circle with Final Destination 5 (2011)
Despite (or perhaps because of) being marketed as the concluding entry to the series, The Final Destination was another box office success. With fans obviously still dying for more (pun intended), another movie was greenlit and Final Destination 5 was released in 2011.
This time, a group of employees headed out for a corporate retreat narrowly avoid a bridge collapse thank to Sam’s (Nicholas D’Agosto) premonition. The expected Rube Goldber-esque deaths soon follow, but with an extra helping of suspense and a clever plot twist or two, Final Destination 5 became the best reviewed film in the series.
Like its predecessor, a large amount of promotional merchandise was given away as part of social media campaigns. Medals reminding that “Death doesn’t like to be cheated” call to mind the gymnasium-set death scene, and a wrench engraved with the movie’s logo is a nice nod to the death of Dennis (David Koechner). As the movie includes multiple callbacks to Volée Airlines and even Flight 180 itself, it was only appropriate that new promotional luggage tags would be created to bring the series full circle.
BONUS: Final Destination Novelizations
All of the merchandise mentioned above was created for promotional purposes and never sold in stores, but there actually were some Final Destination goodies available for purchase in the form of movie tie-in novels and original books! The first three films received book adaptations, and six novels featuring original stories were also published. They are all long out-of-print, but would make a great addition to any fan’s library!
Do you own any of this incredible Final Destination merch? Which was your favourite film in the series? Let us know on Twitter, in the official NOFS Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club.