Dumbest things horror movie characters have ever done

The horror movie genre is full of people making stupid decisions. Would-be slasher victims always end up tripping on nothing while running away—and take way too long to get up. Everyone assumes the monster is always dead without ever shooting it while it's down to make sure. The police/adults never believe the young people claiming that someone is dead or that there's a killer on the loose. And most people never bother arming themselves. Don't bother dialing 911 or locking your doors, because it's time to look at some of the most facepalm-inducing moments in fright flick history. Be warned: there's NSFW content ahead.

Alien: Lambert doesn't run away

Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece revolutionized horror and sci-fi, but that doesn't mean Alien isn't void of characters making dumb mistakes. Aside from the obvious idea that the Nostromo crew should've kept Kane frozen or in quarantine, Veronica Cartwright's Lambert wins our first Hall of Lame award through her inaction towards the end of the film, when she's cornered by the alien as the team preps the Nostromo for self-destruct.

She's paralyzed with fear—sure, we can buy that. Chief engineer Parker sacrifices himself in an attempt to save her, throwing himself at the towering monster, but is ultimately killed. The whole time, Lambert is still standing there, crying and screaming. If she'd listened to Parker and moved, Lambert could've gotten away and he could've used his flamethrower on the Xenomorph. You'd think that the survival instinct would eventually kick in, but no. Way to live up to your name, Lambert.

Saw: Not using the hacksaw to reach the cellphone

James Wan's Saw helped popularize the "torture porn" subgenre with a terror-drenched odyssey of elaborate, grotesque death traps. A solid cast of actors helped round out the film, but Cary Elwes' Dr. Lawrence Gordon was the star of the show, ultimately hacking off his own foot to escape the shackles of the bad guy, Jigsaw. Towards the end of the movie, Lawrence, chained up in a bathroom, loses his cellphone after talking with his family.

Thinking that his wife and daughter are in danger after the last part of their phone conversation, Lawrence uses the hacksaw to cut through his lower leg to free himself and presumably hop/crawl to his family somehow. Watching Lawrence unsuccessfully reach for the phone before the hack job reminds us that he could've used the saw itself to pull the phone back towards him. Had he done that, he would've learned his family was safe without having to saw through his own leg. Unfortunately, stupidity was afoot—and it cost Lawrence one.

Prometheus: Petting a snake, running in the wrong direction

It's a two-for-one special with Ridley Scott's prequel to the Alien franchise, Prometheus. This 2012 flick may not have lived up to the standards set by its predecessor, but it was still pretty creepy—even if it included a couple of boneheaded decisions that left us screaming at the screen. The first act of buffoonery comes when Rafe Spall's Millburn encounters a snake-like creature (we'll let you fill in the blank as to what else it looks like). It's presumably an evolutionary predecessor to the Facehuggers in the Alien series. Millburn reaches out to touch the thing, and it kills him. Mind you, the guy is a biologist and should've known better not to touch an unknown lifeform. Give him a hand, everybody—he certainly gave the alien one.

Stepping up as pinch hitter is Meredith Vickers. While Charlize Theron's character was a high point throughout most of the movie and was smart to refuse a sickened Holloway back on the ship, she wins the trophy for stupidest horror movie move in 2012. After the Prometheus ship destroys itself crashing into the Engineer's spacecraft, the entire wreckage comes falling down towards Vickers and Elizabeth Shaw. The crescent moon-shaped vessel starts rolling towards them, like a wheel, and Vickers tries to outrun it in a straight line along the ship's path. If she'd just run off to the side, she might've lived. This was probably karma for Theron after filming Aeon Flux.

Scream: Using the doggie door

Despite what we said about Lambert in Alien, when you're facing off against someone trying to murder you, sometimes you're better off just standing your ground. Case in point: Tatum Riley in Scream, played by Rose McGowan. When the Ghostface killer tried to corner her in a garage, Tatum was able to fend for herself. She flung beer bottles and tripped Ghostface, even hitting him with a refrigerator door. Things fell apart, however, when McGowan's character tried to dive through a small dog entrance cut into the garage door. Stuck in the opening, she was killed by Ghostface, who used the automated garage door opener to lift her up and crush her skull.

This scene was probably just an excuse for some close-up shots of a braless McGowan in a short skirt struggling to fit her upper torso through the door, but it was still a stupid move overall. She was in a garage filled with plenty of potential weapons. Not to mention she tried to open the locked house door—which was right next to the garage door controls, which she easily could've used. All dogs go to heaven, and apparently, doggie doors lead there too.

The Evil Dead series: Playing the Necronomicon tapes

The monsters, ghosts, demons, and killers of the horror biz have to come from somewhere. Throughout the Evil Dead movie series, malevolent forces lay dormant until someone recited the demon resurrection passages in the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, the Sumerian book of the dead. The previous inhabitant of the series' cabin setting researched the book and recorded the phonetic pronunciations of its passages. Saying them aloud ultimately killed the reader and his wife, and playing the tape recordings years later resulted in the deaths of Ash Williams' sister, friends, and girlfriend. Of course, that didn't stop a group of 20-somethings from unlocking the curse in the 2013 Evil Dead remake, or Ash from hilariously reading from the book while high during the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series.

Jeepers Creepers: Crawling down the pipe

Victor Salva's 2001 movie Jeepers Creepers may have taken its name from an old school pop standard, but it apparently didn't take any lessons in good decision-making.

Gina Philips and Justin Long star as brother-sister pair Trish and Darry Jenner, two college kids homeward bound for spring break. On their journey from long lectures to lazier days spent vegging out on their parents' couch, Trish and Darry encounter something pretty gnarly: an old man tossing what looks like dead bodies down a pipe in the ground near an abandoned church. Now, we don't know about how strong your sense of inquisition is, but we'd definitely ditch the scene and drive away, content with not ever discovering the stranger's grotesque activities.

Darry, on the other hand, simply can't help himself, and chooses to investigate the situation later on by climbing into the pipe to see where it funnels out. Down he slides (and lands at the bottom with a jarring thud), a choice that eventually leads to more horrifying findings and unleashes the titular Creeper, an ancient creature who pursues Trish and Darry and hack-slashes its way through their hometown. 

What makes Darry's dumb choice even worse is that Trish straight-up calls him out on his stupidity before he commits to it, saying that shimmying into the dirty metal tube to find out if dead people lie below is the same kind of pea-brained decision characters in horror movies make. Clearly, we don't disagree.

I Know What You Did Last Summer: Stopping during the escape, turning around

Director Jim Gillespie's teen scream-fest I Know What You Did Last Summer is freckled with moments that make audiences today roll their eyes in secondhand embarrassment and guffaw at some of the more cringeworthy lines, though it's still a solid enough slasher to make up for some of its misgivings. But one aspect of the film that's completely unforgivable is the bone-headed choice Sarah Michelle Gellar's character, Helen Shivers, makes seconds before she's about to reach safety. 

Let's set the stage: Helen–who already has a dark past with the whole "accidentally killing a man and then dumping his body in the water last summer" thing, made worse by the fact that a deranged murderer is on her tail–hitches a ride home from a police officer, who's scored and gored to death by the killer when he makes a stop. Terrified, Helen seeks safety in her family store, where her sister Elsa (Bridgette Wilson) is also murdered. Helen has a good chance of avoiding the same fate by making like Bullseye and running like the wind down an alley, but seals her destiny when she stops in her tracks and looks behind her. The people who might have saved her, the marching band playing in the Fourth of July parade, trumpet and tap right by Helen as the murderer cuts her down to size–literally. We'd say her stupidity is karma for her one-summer-ago sin, but she was definitely born with it.

The Purge: Not sticking together, letting people in

If your home was built with dedicated spaces meant to keep you safe, wouldn't it be wise to, you know, not move around when danger is afoot–and even more so when guys and gals rocking Uncanny Valley masks are circling your humble abode with a bloodthirst as fiery as a thousand suns? Yeah, we thought so. The family at the center of The Purge, James DeMonaco's 2013 American dystopian horror pic, however, makes a different (and dumber) choice.

You're likely familiar with the premise of The Purge: in a near-future America, once a year there's a 12-hour period during which all crime (including murder) is completely legal, with no law enforcement, medical professionals, or government officials available to interfere. The Sandins–James (Ethan Hawke), Mary (Lena Headey), Zoey (Adelaide Kane), and Charlie (Max Burkholder)–are affluent and intelligent, but somehow switch into mindless dopes when the fifth annual Purge night commences. Instead of staying together in a safe room in their locked-down house, the four split up into different corners–which spurs Charlie to temporarily disable the security system and let an outsider in, leading to the aforementioned gang threatening the Sandins with death if they don't hand over the stranger. The bullet-spraying and bloodshed that follows wouldn't have happened had a few dumb decisions not been made, but then again, The Purge franchise wouldn't exist either…

It Follows: Attempting electrocution

2014's It Follows is a film many critics were quick to brand as unique, thought-provoking, and refreshing enough to reinvigorate the horror genre. But for a movie lauded for its chilling intelligence and deft handling of themes like sex and morality, It Follows contains a downright dumb act that its central characters carry out collectively.

In an effort to bring an end to the deadly entity that stalks Jaime "Jay" Height (Maika Monroe), Jay and her friends concoct a plan to trap the creature in a swimming pool filled with live electrical devices, hoping to zap It to death. The group's scheme flounders and then goes totally belly-up when It hurls objects at Jay and Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and wounds Yara (Olivia Luccardi). Director David Robert Mitchell even called it "the stupidest plan ever," quipping that "it's a kid-movie plan… something that Scooby-Doo and the gang might think of… they do their best to accomplish something, and we witness its failure." It's particularly foolish since the intended electrocution didn't pan out and because It can never really die.  

Scream: Not calling the cops

Just as Scream was slightly heavy-handed with the red food dye and corn syrup for the dozens of scenes that required fake blood, it went a touch overboard with daft decisions made by its characters. Before Tatum succumbed to the doggie door of doom after the dart-and-dash session with the Ghostface killer in the garage, Casey Becker, played by Drew Barrymore, was the first vacuous victim in the film. 

As she's prepping homemade popcorn and loading a movie into her VHS player for a cozy movie night in, Casey gets a call from someone she doesn't know (spoiler alert: its good ol' Ghosty himself) and continues to talk with the increasingly sinister stranger. It's only when the conversation turns sour that she hangs up–but she doesn't use the opportunity to phone 911 for help. Though the killer warns her that the police wouldn't reach her before he had his way with her, it's no excuse for not trying. 

The cherry on top of the whole cake of carelessness is Casey's inability to stop blabbering on with Ghostface; she answers the phone again after first hanging up and gives into the killer's twisted horror trivia game, which ends in her death and the death of her dearly beloved boyfriend Steve (Kevin Patrick Walls). 

Saw II: Sticking both hands in the trap

The Saw film series sees its characters making no shortage of wrong moves, but this moment from the second installment might be the worst. John Kramer/the Jigsaw Killer earmarks a young prostitute named Addison Corday (Emmanuelle Vaugier), whom he abucts and imprisons in his newest dungeon of horror due to her less-than-savory link to Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg), who led a SWAT raid of Jigsaw's lair. There, Addison, along with seven other victims, is slowly dying from a steady stream of poisonous gas flowing through the house. Antidotes scattered throughout traps in the house will reverse the effects of the nerve agent, and Addison's puzzle just so happens to be one of the easiest to navigate.

Her vial of life-saving liquid sits in a glass box smack-dab between two bladed holes. Rather than simply sticking one hand in, grabbing the antidote, then using her other hand to push the blades up and free her trapped arm (or better yet, simply snatching the key at the top of the trap), Addison shoves both hands in, leaving her with no way out. We've got to hand it to her (she could use one)—that's some impressive idiocy.

Halloween: Resurrection: Pulling off Michael's mask

You don't have to be a diehard franchise fan to know that the Halloween film series is riddled with some thick-skulled actions, but what goes down in Halloween: Resurrection isn't entirely kooky. We can understand what the film's writers, creative pair Larry Brand and Sean Hood, had in mind. After all, there was a minefield of emotional material to work through after Halloween: H20, in which Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) seemingly slaughters her serial killer brother Michael Myers via a brutal beheading. Unfortunately, Resurrection still sees a certain someone commit an unforgivably dim act in the final scene.

When Laurie finally confronts Michael again (the man she decapitated in H20 was a actually paramedic donning her brother's signature headpiece) to end him once and for all, she reaches out to pull his mask off and double-check that it's really her brother standing in front of her. Laurie's moment of caution and doubt exposes her vulnerability, as she doesn't realize his hands are still free, giving him the perfect window for an attempted murder. Michael stabs Laurie and chucks her off the roof of the psychiatric hospital she was living in. She does go out like a total renegade, though, telling Michael exactly where she'll see him six feet under.

Though outside Resurrection, Laurie is still alive and will return for the new Halloween reboot, her decision here can't be written off.

The Blair Witch Project: Throwing away the map

Bouts of and supreme frustration can cause people to do any number of things: pout like a toddler, blast angsty music, take aggression out on a punching bag, or isolate ourselves from the world altogether. For Mike (Michael C. Williams) in Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez's seminal horror film The Blair Witch Project, a case of the un-happies leads him to spiral into stupidity. Hyped up and ostensibly maniacal, Mike admits to the rest of the woods-traveling group that he tossed the map–their only map–into the river. The gang ends up paying hand and foot (and maybe even a bit of tongue and teeth, if you catch our drift) for his anger-fueled choice.

One Missed Call: Looking through the peephole

Whether it's peeking through curtains, watching from a window away, or staring a little too intently at someone from a distance, voyeurism is generally frowned upon in modern society, at least when it comes to Peeping Toms. In the case of Detective Jack Andrews (Edward Burns) in the astonishingly terrible supernatural horror flick One Missed Call, his vision-related curiosities cost him his life.

For context, One Missed Call, the remake of the classic J-horror movie of the same name, follows a college student named Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon), whose friends have started dying off one by one. The single aspect that connects their deaths? Each victim received a frightening telephone call that played a recording of them being murdered, and had only a few days to bypass the inevitable (though their efforts were fruitless). Jack Andrews is the determined detective hoping to crack the case, but his gumption gets the better of him toward the end of the film just after he has a major breakthrough. Jack books it to Beth's house, where the two hear a knock on the door. Unable to stop himself from catching a glimpse of the person on the other side (there's that voyeuristic drive), Jack looks through the peephole–as Beth screams for him not to–and gets straight-up eye-stabbed and dies, with the mysterious murder still not completely solved.

The Happening: Apologizing to the plants

This last pick is the very definition of doltishness, and not in the way that you may naturally presume. Mark Wahlberg stars as well-meaning high school science teacher Elliot Moore, who's half-horrified, half-confused to learn that the mass suicides that have rocked the globe are the result of Mother Earth fighting back against humans for ruining natural resources—plants are gaining sentience to get aggressive, since mankind has become a threat. After a brief theory-crafting session with his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) about the real catalyst behind the global self-immolation, Elliot turns to a large plant in his office and proceeds to talk to it, apologizing for what humans have done to nature and repenting for the abuse mankind has inflicted on the planet. Nothing terrible happens to him afterward (the scene would have been vastly improved had the tree somehow taken a swing at him), but nothing productive comes of Elliot's plant-centric repentance, either. Did he really think a simple "I'm sorry" would fix it all?