‘Tis the Season for Halloween Tricks, and we’ve rounded up a list of some of the best in Horror! Pranks are a fun way to set a movie in motion, and a common trope in horror films. Outlined here are some of the best ones in films that are perfect for Halloween night viewing.
Warning: Many of these pranks are plot points of their respective films. The spoilers are pretty light, but a warning seemed appropriate.
10. Urban Legend (1998)
Our first round of “tricks” pits Pacey from Dawson’s Creek against Freddy Krueger. The college from the film Urban Legend offers a class in urban legends, and the professor is none other than Robert Englund in a killer cameo. His opening lesson involves debunking popular urban myths notably the “Pop Rocks and Soda” myth from the 1980’s. Back then, we believed that if you drank Soda and ate Pop Rocks at the same time, it would kill you. It was common knowledge that the child actor Mikey in the Life Cereal ads died tragically from the combination. Later, we all learned is was just a farse. Mikey was alive and well.
The myth was so strong that when Pacey ingests the combination, the entire classroom believed his stomach had exploded – just like in the legend. The audience I saw this with opening weekend was also convinced he was dead. In a film full of tricks, urban legends, and red herrings, this prank has always stood out.
9. Jawbreaker (1999)
PSA- If you decide that kidnapping your best friend on their birthday as a prank is a hilarious idea, do not use an oversized jawbreaker as a gag. Courtney, Marcie, and Julie greet the leader of their clique for her sweet 17th exactly this way. Cruel pranks are the way that this group shows their love for each other, so Liz Purr waking up to the trio disguised in hooded sweatshirts and creepy masks – is not abnormal. When the girls arrive at the Diner they’ve chosen to take Liz to for her birthday breakfast, they find that Liz has choked to death on the titular Jawbreaker that they used to muffle her screams. Not the best start to a birthday, but perfect for this dark as night comedy.
When Jawbreaker was released, it was a critical and financial failure. The years have been kind to this film, and some of the stars have gone on to great things. Rose McGowan and Judy Greer give the best performances in the film, so it is a must see if you’re a fan of either of them. If the film has escaped you until now, it is streaming with commercials on Crackle.
8. Sorority Row (2009)
If one Theta Pi is messed with or cheated on, the whole sorority is messed with or cheated on. Loyalty is the first tenant of the Sorority at the center of Sorority Row. When Megan’s boyfriend Garret cheats on her, the girls devise a plan to teach her philandering boyfriend a lesson. One of the members sells him some “roofies” that he is to give to Megan so he can have guilt-free makeup sex with her. The pills make her foam at the mouth, making Garret believe that she’s had an overdose. If ever you are in a life-threatening situation, Garret would be the worst partner to have.
Sorority Row is an alright movie with an incredible performance from Carrie Fisher. If you’re like me, and you like watching bad things happen to terrible people, Sorority Row is streaming for you on Shudder.
7. Joy Ride (2001)
In 2001, Paul Walker not only had to contend with Vin Diesel operated motor vehicles in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but he also had to deal with a manic behind the wheel of a big rig in Joy Ride, as Lewis. On a cross-country roadtrip toward the girl of his dreams, Lewis finds himself making a U-Turn to rescue his brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn). Lewis should have just kept driving on the highway towards the girl of his dreams.
One of Fuller’s first purchases on the outside is a CB radio that he uses to alleviate his boredom during their road trip. The prank comes when Fuller strikes up a conversation with a driver with the handle Rusty Nail. Walker speaks to him with a very unconvincing feminine voice, as Candy Cane – but that’s enough to get Rusty’s gears grinding.
6. Lady in White (1988)
On Halloween, two classmates trick Frankie into getting locked in the cloakroom overnight. This sort of bullying isn’t abnormal, but what Frankie witnesses in that cloakroom sets this forgotten gem in motion. At around midnight, the ghost of a little girl appears in the room. The spirit is reliving the night of her murder but notices Frankie as it is occurring. The murderer also returns to the scene of the crime this night, looking for a piece of evidence that he left behind.
5. Friday the 13th III (1982)
When we think of Jason Voorhees, it’s impossible to separate the hockey mask from the monster. We forget that it took until the third film for the killer to find his iconic look. Part 2 was the first film to feature Jason as the killer, and in that one, he had a terrifying sack over his head. It wasn’t until Jason met Shelly that the merchandising dreams of this franchise skyrocketed.
Shelly (Larry Zerner) lacks confidence relying on attention-getting pranks to make friends. Shelly thinks it’s hilarious to terrorize Vera by threatening her with a Harpoon gun while wearing a hockey mask. If this is his way of informing her of a crush it backfired. Instead, Shelly’s constant antics make him the “boy who cried wolf” of the chapter. Nobody even takes him seriously when he’s bleeding to death.
The main reason this prank is so iconic is it is where Jason ended up with the hockey mask.
4. Heathers (1989)
Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) is the head of the most powerful clique at Sherwood High. After a night of drinking at a college party, Veronica (Winona Ryder) and Jason (Christian Slater) sneak into Heather’s house to make her something gross for breakfast. The most devious Veronica can seem to get either to combine milk and orange juice or “hocking a loogie” into whichever concoction they create.
Jason thinks something a little edgier is on the menu. His idea of a good time is disguising the color of Drano in a mug and serving it to Heather. Veronica rightly calls this a horrible idea but grabs the mug of Drano on “accident.” Presenting the “hangover cure” as something Heather would be too “chicken” to consume, she downs it defiantly. Heather immediately hits the floor. Not wanting to send her S.A.T scores to San Quentin, Jason and Veronica cover up the prank gone wrong with a suicide note.
Heathers is an eternal classic not to be missed and is streaming on Shudder.
3. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
Commonly parents have nightmares around the Halloween season is that some part of the holiday will take advantage of their children. They think a masked stranger will whisk their child away while trick-r-treating or slipping razor blades into their candy. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch plays on these fears in an epic way.
Commercials geared towards children are always loud and designed to annoy parents into finally buying the product to shut everyone up. Silver Shamrock has one of these playing through this Halloween installment that is almost as evil as their nefarious plan. The commercials announce that on Halloween night all children must have these special masks to participate in a special event. The special event is not a treat for the children. Instead, Silver Shamrock rigged their masks with a nasty supernatural joke. These masks melt faces. A montage reveals that this is a nationwide prank, almost biblical in its proportions.
2. Trick r’ Treat (2007)
Trick r’ Treat is a film filled with tricks and Halloween rules. One of the best pranks in any horror film starts as a cruel joke but then twists into something wonderful. This one starts with a common horror trope. A group of cruel kids thinks it’s a great idea to play a prank on an outsider from their school. They pick Rhonda as their victim. Rhonda’s a character who respects the holiday as much as our adorable villain Sam. She even refers to the night as Samhain in a traditional way.
The town has a story about a group of children from the “Happy Shepard Academy”. Legend has it that the parents were fed up with dealing with their troubled. They paid the Bus driver to have an “accident” to rid them of their shame. Legend has it that they haunt the scene of the crime every Halloween night.
Rhonda is the last one to reach the bottom of the quarry that serves as the graveyard for the troubled children. The rest of the kids have hatched an elaborate prank to make it look like the kids have returned from the dead, and are going to attack Rhonda. The trick is on them though. The legend is real, and Rhonda is the only one who makes it out alive. The karmic world of Trick r’ Treat is a beautiful place.
1. Carrie (1976)
The best prank on this list is also the saddest of them all. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a lonely girl who has been an outsider up until her prom night, which must seem like a magical new world to her. Instead of this being her triumphant coming out party, Carrie is the subject of a nasty prank.
Mad with rage over being banned from Prom, Chris (Nancy Allen) devises a plan to ruin Carrie’s night. They fix it so she and Tommy Ross (William Katt) will win Prom King and Queen, and plan to pour pig’s blood over the couple when they accept their crowns.
The saddest part of the entire scene is what sets off the telekinetic rage from Carrie. People have bullied Carrie her whole life, so the humiliation of being covered in pig’s blood isn’t the straw that sets her off. When the blood drops, one of the buckets falls and hits Tommy in the head, killing him instantly. Carrie’s reaction to the lifeless body of one of the only people who has ever been nice is what causes her to lose control. Carrie isn’t a traditional monster like many in horror history; she’s just a powerful girl who loses control when she’s pushed too far. It’s hard to believe that many of us wouldn’t react in the same way if we had telekinetic powers.
Carrie is streaming on Amazon Prime right now.
Those are our picks for the 10 greatest pranks of horror! What did we miss? Let us know in our Fiend Club Facebook group!