To say that horror movies feature a lot of death in them is like saying grass is green and water is wet: Obviously the best way to scare an audience is to show them the one thing pretty much everyone is afraid of. Maybe a death leads to a doomed revenge plot, or the victim comes back as a ghost, or characters are killed off simply to show how dangerous the movie’s central threat is. Whatever type of horror movie you’re watching, not all of its characters will survive to see the end.

There is an art, however, to crafting a really shocking and satisfying kill. You can’t just start offing characters willy-nilly, or the violence becomes numbing, and you can’t kill anyone without a reason that makes sense for the plot, or it’ll just confuse people. The best horror movie deaths are often the ones we don’t see coming: they happen very suddenly, or they happen to characters we thought would live a little longer, or they’re just unimaginably, delightfully gross.

For this list, we’ve chosen the horror movie deaths that aren’t just disturbing, or memorable, but shocking in the same way a great twist is shocking: A fun surprise that often changes the whole vibe of the movie. From a classic that upended the familiar conventions of horror movies that came before (and some say invented the slasher genre) to scream-inducing extraterrestrials, Hell trains, telephone poles, and one spooky ship, these are the horror movie deaths that shocked us the most.

The Most Shocking Horror Movie Deaths

Some horror movie kills are even better when you have no idea they're coming.

Gallery Credit: Emma Stefansky

READ MORE: The Most Underrated Horror Movies of the 21st Century

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