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31 Best Final Shots in Horror

They might just be the last things you’ll see before you die.
Days Final Shots
By  · Published on October 31st, 2018

16. The Wicker Man (1973)


The Shot

“In the name of God — think what you’re doing!” No time, wrong-place-wrong-time cop! There’s ritual afoot, and it just so happens Sergeant Howie fits the willing, king-like, virgin-fool bill. Good thing, because the harvest depends on it! The islanders drag Howie, kicking and screaming, into the eponymous wicker man and set it ablaze. As Howie’s prayers, and finally screams, fill the air, the islanders break into unnervingly cheery song. Soon enough, the hulking, blazing mass crumbles, its head lulling off to reveal the glow of the setting sun. – Meg Shields

15. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Sleepaway Camp

The Shot

Robert Hiltzik’s early ‘80s slasher has gained a cult following over the years, beloved for its insane opening sequence, dark humor, and fun kills. While that’s all nice and fine, the true reason this film has lasted so long is because of the way-out-of-left-field twist ending that reveals our lead Angela to really be a boy named Peter. The reveal ain’t subtle either. After cutting the head off a fellow camper, Angela stands in the nude, covered in blood with her little peter dangling in the wind while letting out a ferocious howl. Memorable to say the least. – Chris Coffel

14. It Follows (2014)

It Follows

The Shot

The camera follows behind Jay (Maika Monroe) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist) holding hands, strolling down the suburban sidewalk. Birds chirp all around them, and their footsteps sound soft but carry an impending doom. We don’t see the demon that stalks behind them, nor do we see the hapless victims that Jay and Paul will inevitably target in front of them. They have taken their curse and weaponized it. The deadly dangers of STDs transformed into an empowering “Fuck You” to the world that patronized their youth. – Brad Gullickson

13. The Shining (1980)

The Shining Photo

The Shot

If you’re going to move your family into a haunted hotel in the middle of nowhere and try to murder them, at least do it during spring time or summer. Or at least do it indoors while they’re asleep or something. That way you won’t freeze to death like some kind of fool. Poor old Jack Torrance learned this the hard way, and he turned into a human Popsicle as a result. The final shot, however, is shrouded in mystery. Why is Jack in a photograph taken in 1921? Some believe that Jack was a reincarnated version of a past guest. Others believe that everyone the hotel has claimed gets added to that picture. Either way, it’s an eerie shot. – Kieran Fisher

12. The Fog (1980)

The Fog

The Shot

I’ve watched every episode of Designing Women, and outside of giving me an incredible amount of reverence for the women of Georgia, it also cultivated a deep appreciation for the actor Hal Holbrook. Who knew this appreciation would have a practical application by the time I eventually watched John Carpenter’s spectral masterpiece The Fog! As the vengeful spirits lay siege on the quiet hamlet of Antonio Bay, Holbrook holds the key to their survival: the towns tragic secret for success. Believing to have sated the undead pirates by returning what was owed to them, Holbrook’s alcoholic priest is shocked to discover they never left. They needed more than just their treasure back to quench their revenge. They need one more victim. G’night, Hal! – Jacob Trussell

11. Halloween (1978)


The Shot

The final shot of John Carpenter’s seminal classic isn’t that of a screaming victim or a bloodied body but rather a simple shot that lingers on an abandoned house. As we focus in on the house just before the screen fades to black and the credits roll we hear the ominous breathing of Michael Myers while Carpenter’s iconic theme plays. As is the case with the rest of the film, Carpenter creates fear less with what he shows us and more by what he suggests. The people of Haddonfield may be safe for now, but death has yet to leave this little town. – Chris Coffel

10. Prince of Darkness (1987)

Prince Of Darkness

The Shot

From the bonkers horror elements to one of the Horror Master’s best scores, this John Carpenter joint doesn’t get the love it deserves. He nails endings better and more consistently than most filmmakers (as evidenced by his multiple entries on this list), and that trend continues here. Green goop, mathematical equations, prophetic dreams, and Ol’ Scratch himself come together here as a team of researchers barely stop the anti-god from entering our world through a mirror. Marsh’s lover sacrificed herself to stop Satan’s arrival, trapping herself in the other realm in the process, and after he awakes from two nightmares in a row he approaches his mirror with caution. She’s alive, she may be the new embodiment of evil, and as he reaches slowly toward the mirror we watch with dread and anticipation that she’ll reach back. – Rob Hunter

9. The Invitation (2015)

The Invitation

The Shot

As if a dinner party turned murderous cult ceremony wasn’t scary enough, Karyn Kusama ends her brilliant and tense thriller with a truly horrifying image: that of the Hollywood hills lit up with dozens, potentially hundreds, of red lanterns, each signaling that similar mass murders have taken place at the home. When the film ends we’re left to imagine exactly what could have gone down over the last few hours across the whole city or even the country. Lesson to be learned: always leave parties early. – Anna Swanson

8. The Witch (2015)

The Vvitch

The Shot

Wouldst thou like to dance naked in the woods and levitate like a bad-ass? Uh, DUH. Deal struck with Black Phillip, Thomasin walks into the woods and into the welcoming embrace of a gaggle of devil-worshiping witches. Having succumbed to Satan, she surrenders to charm and renounces her desire to be good, and all the self-loathing that has brought her. She loves the world and being in it and she is done feeling marginalized. Free, accepted, she levitates over the smoke of her charred siblings. – Meg Shields

7. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1975)


The Shot

Leatherface, deprived of the opportunity to kill Sally, is left with nothing to do but flail his weapon of choice in an act of unhinged frustration. Framed in silhouette as he darts in and out of the warm light of the rising sun, Leatherface’s extended arms and his chainsaw blur together. Man and machine united. The effect is dizzying and disorienting — the only sense of humanity that is left following the massacre is one of pure madness. – Anna Swanson

6. Re-Animator (1985)


The Shot

The entire final act of Stuart Gordon’s first Lovecraft adaptation is complete and utter chaos. In the midst of all the commotion it appears as if Dan is able to save his love Meg and the two will live a happy life together. Unfortunately, Meg is strangled to death by a reanimated corpse and despite Dan’s best efforts he is unable to revive her. In the film’s final moment Dean injects Meg with the reagent created by West paving the way for a sequel. – Chris Coffel

5. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The Cabin In The Woods

The Shot

We’ve been hearing about these dang giant evil gods all movie: if a sacrifice isn’t made, bad junk’s going to happen. Yada, yada, yada. We’ve got bigger villainous fish to fry: there’s a cult harboring all manner of monstrosities hellbent on murdering our heroic teens. One might be forgiven for forgetting about the vague threat “down there.” Well our protagonist’s FOMO for seeing the old gods tear shit up is ours to relish. In the film’s apocalyptic final moments, the extent of the old gods’ fury is made manifest. A towering hand, veined with fire, bursts through the ground, and then towards us. Oh shit. Is it too late for those teens to die? – Meg Shields

4. The Descent (2005)

The Descent

The Shot

Neil Marshall’s sophomore feature is filled with an overbearing, claustrophobic sense of dread as a group of spelunkers fight for their lives against a pack of subterranean creatures. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s not even the fucked up part. Seen as far too bleak for American audiences who received a dower, but happier, ending the UK cut is where the optimism takes a steep nosedive. After escaping from the underground and seeing a ghostly vision of her friend sitting in her jeep, Sarah awakens to discover she never escaped the cave. She envisions her dead daughter, a birthday cake alight between them. Our last fading glimpse is of Sarah surrounded by an extinguishing flame as the creatures’ roars grow nearer and nearer. It’s a chilling display of fatalism in an already brutal meditation on death. – Jacob Trussell

3. In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

Mouth Of Madness

The Shot

John Trent (Sam Neill) stumbles forth from the asylum, wanders down the hill, and enters the desolate city he once knew as a thriving metropolis. On the radio, we hear reports of bodies swelling with mutation, and the mass killings he fruitlessly warned the Arcane publisher about have already come and gone. The words and worlds of Sutter Cane have leaped beyond the printed page and become celluloid. Trent grabs a bucket of popcorn and gives himself to the movies. The final shot of John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness is a horrible, hilarious acceptance of the end of the world. Trent watches himself up on that big screen screaming his sanity away. “I am not insane!” If you can’t beat them, join them. Neill gives a little smile, which turns into a laugh, Jim Lang and Carpenter’s heavy metal score builds, and we cut to profile. The laugh gets away from Trent, erupting into a guffaw that pushes his head back, sealing his eyes to the oblivion of humanity and the rebirth of monstrosity. Reality is not what it used to be. – Brad Gullickson

2. The Thing (1982)

The Thing

The Shot

After being through a traumatic event, some people just want to sit back and watch the world burn. I don’t know if that’s what John Carpenter was trying to convey with this shot, but that’s how I see it. The beauty of this shot, however, is that it gives us no resolve. Here we have two dudes stranded in the middle of Antarctica — possibly possessed by a shape-shifting killer — hoping help comes their way before they freeze to death. And maybe that option wouldn’t be so bad after all, since their livelihood is literally up in flames. Cheerful stuff. – Kieran Fisher

1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)


The Shot

There have been four feature adaptations of Jack Finney‘s “The Body Snatchers,” and while each has their strengths (ha, just kidding, 2007’s The Invasion is plant-based garbage) the best and most effective remains Philip Kaufman‘s late 70s thriller. The film is a fascinating and chilling tale of paranoia and conformity with moments of real terror and suspense, and it’s a tone the film maintains through until the final frames. Our hero, Matthew (Donald Sutherland) is separated from his only still-human friends, but as the film cuts to some time later it appears he’s pretending to be one of the alien clones in order to survive. An old friend spots him, her relief pours out with emotion, and Matthew rats her out in the creepiest way possible. Is he changed? Or is he protecting himself by sacrificing her? Either option is horrifying. – Rob Hunter

Here endith our 31 Days of Horror Lists! Why not scroll back through to read more you may have missed?

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.