Horror movies and guns—they kind of go hand in hand, even though most of the time, guns are the last thing that can hurt supernatural baddies. But that sure doesn’t stop the good guys from giving it a try. And sometimes, it even does some good…until the sequel, anyway.
Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable horror movie guns as we get ready for this Halloween weekend (and note: there are numerous spoilers here):
Guns of Dr. Loomis from the Halloween Films
The white-masked face of the serial killer Michael Myers became a part of the fabric of Halloween when John Carpenter released his independent masterpiece and pushed Jamie Lee Curtis into a decades-long film career. The little movie about a deranged boy who killed his sister on the titular holiday, only to escape from an asylum 15 years later to wreak carnage on the same neighborhood on the same day, spawned seven sequels plus a 2007 remake that has a sequel of its own.
We all know Michael slashed his way through the first film with a big old kitchen knife, but it took Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and his trusty Smith & Wesson Model 15 revolver to put six bullets into Myers’ chest in the last scene of the film. The Model 15 used in the movie was fitted with target stocks rather than the slimmer Magna stocks of the time.
It didn’t do much good. Michael vanished from the front lawn where he fell after taking the rounds, and clearly came back for a bunch of sequels, but it gave poor Laurie a break, but just for a while.
Loomis and his S&W Model 15 we back for the sequel, Halloween II (1981), which picks up right where the original left off. Loomis, and Michael Myers for that matter, we absent from Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), which attempted to take the series in a different direction. They both returned for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) and this time, Loomis is carrying an automatic, a Smith & Wesson 639 in 9mm with pearl grips.
In the Rob Zombie-directed 2007 remake, Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) is a much different character—he’s kind of an asshole, actually. There’s no better way to put it. He does sort of try to do the right thing at the end, but he’s such a jerk in the rest of the movie, you just end up asking, why he even cares. Zombie created a character who would naturally run away from Michael Myers if he weren’t in restraints as fast and far as possible, but instead, Loomis runs toward danger, heading to Haddonfield as soon as he hears of Michael’s escape.
In one of the worst gun-buying scenes ever put to film, he nervously buys a Colt Python revolver with a pearl grip when he stops at a gun shop on his way to Haddonfield. He uses it shoot Michael in a similar confrontation as depicted in the original, but Michael doesn’t fall off a balcony afterward only to disappear. This time, there’s a whole ‘nother round of fighting after Loomis shoots Michael and it’s Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) with Loomis’ gun who fires the last shot.
Night of the Living Dead Lever Guns (1968 & 1990)
The first movie that ever made people think about what guns they’d want in the event of a zombie apocalypse came way before The Walking Dead was even a comic book. In the original Night of the Living Dead Ben (Duane Jones) used a Winchester 1894 lever gun for most of the movie until it’s taken away by Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman).
At the end, the posse members are seen with a few more guns, namely some Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolvers, an Ithaca 37 shotgun, and even a sporterized Pattern 1914 Enfield and another Lee Enfield No. 1 Mk3.
The 1990 remake also sees Ben (Tony Todd) using a lever gun; but this time it’s an even older design than the one used in the 1968 movie: a Henry 1860 brass receiver rifle. Ben doesn’t hang on to it the whole movie this time, rather giving it to Barbara (Patricia Tallman) who uses it to great effect against the undead.
Barbara also gets her hand on a Smith & Wesson Model 10 HB later on, which she pulls from the holster of a zombie police officer.
The zombies in this movie are kind of strange—they shuffle and move slowly, but they’re quiet and persistent. They get people by slowly closing in and making them do something stupid, like accidentally blow up a gas pump. It’s an odd creeping kind of enemy. Six or seven of them in a field, and you can easily sidestep them—but in larger groups, they are overwhelming.
The zombie hunters at the end of the movie have some updated hardware compared to their 1968 counterparts, with one carrying a CAR-15 variant, another with a Remington 1100, a Remington 700, and a Winchester 1300, plus a few others.
Guns of Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The Night of the Living Dead remake was about a decade or so too early to ride the most recent wave of zombie fandom, but the 2004 remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was right on time. The story of a group of zombie apocalypse survivors who hole up in an abandoned shopping mall is now a zombie classic.
There are a bunch of guns, but the most iconic is the shotgun handled by Kenneth (Ving Rhames). A uniformed officer, Kenneth carries a Remington 870 (Police Magnum) at the start of the film in the streets and he keeps it until the get to the mall, where Ana (Sarah Polley) takes out the zombie in the fountain with it.
Once the group makes it to the gun store across the street, Kenneth upgrades to a customized Remington 870 with an extended magazine tube, Mossberg-style ghost-ring sights, and a synthetic stock and forend. From Rhames’ trigger discipline, stance, and lack of flinch from the 12 gauge, it’s obvious he was well trained.
And let’s not forget Andy (Bruce Bohne) with his scoped Winchester Model 70. In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, Andy uses his camo-stocked rifle to play a gruesome version of “Hollywood Squares” with the other survivors stranded in the mall. Kenneth would show Andy a celebrity name on a dry erase board, and Andy takes out a zombie from the herd below that’s a good look-alike. Told you.
Guns of Dog Soldiers (2002)
Dog Soldiers was a strange movie that tried to combine a couple genres and a few sub-genres as well. Take the typical horror movie setup of a group of people stuck in a cabin in the woods surrounded by something evil…then make that group of people a squad of British commandos in the Scottish highlands…and then make the evil thing outside a pack of ravenous, 7-foot-tall werewolves. That’s Dog Soldiers.
And the filmmakers created the surprisingly awesome and hilarious and creepy horror cult favorite on a shoestring budget, meaning most of the money went to the werewolf effects (which play great in the movie thanks to great camera angles and lighting, but don’t ever look at the behind-the-scenes photos shot in bright light…yikes), so the firearms didn’t get a lot of love, but they did pretty good.
The team starts off with standard UK issue L85A1 bullpup rifles fitted with military blank adapters for the war games they think they’re playing. They ditch the useless L85A1s when they discovered the destroyed Spec Ops camp.
After that, they pick up the discarded Heckler & Koch MP5A2s that are laying around, making them their primary firearms. Most are fitted with surefire weaponlights and some have clamped dual magazines.
Private Witherspoon (Darren Morfitt) and Private Terry Milburn both use H&K HK41 rifles for most of the movie. The rifles are fitted with slimline handguards and the flash hiders were removed. At several points in the film, you can see the rifles have difficulty cycling blanks, and the actors have to often manually work the bolt between shots.
Guns of Aliens (1986)
You can’t talk about horror movies and guns without talking about the M41A Pulse Rifle from James Cameron’s sequel to the Ridley Scott classic Alien. The iconic, yet fictional gun that even got on the movie poster was built from a couple of real-life guns. The base for the futuristic Pulse Rifle is the decidedly old-school M1A1 Thompson submachine gun. In fact, you can still see the Thompson in there from the angle of the pistol grip], trigger guard shape, and the shape of the circular bolt handle.
The gun was given a synthetic, adjustable stock and grip and clamped in a chassis that allowed another gun to be mounted under the barrel—a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun with the heat shield and foregrip from a Franchi SPAS-12, which stood in for a grenade launcher. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) duct-tapes the Pulse Rifle to a compact flame thrower for her final standoff with the Alien Queen.
On the side, the rifle has an LED readout displaying the number of rounds remaining in the magazine, a feature that gets quite a few close-ups as Ripley runs out of ammo in the third act, and something we’ve all wanted on a gun ever since.
The futuristic gun is actually built on a WWII-era M1A1 Thompson submachine gun fitted with a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun to serve as the “grenade launcher” augmented with the distinctive heat shield and foregrip of a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun.
According to imfdb.org, only one Pulse Rifle on the set had a functioning shotgun unit attached.
The Pulse Rifle has a custom-made aluminum shell concealing its parts. And although the guns appear to be painted a shade of olive green throughout the movie, they were actually painted brown, but appeared green under the predominantly blue on-set lights. This is why it’s also difficult for fans to recreate the exact color of the paint on the Marines’ body armor.
After the movie wrapped, all but one of the Pulse Rifles (the “hero” gun with the functioning shotgun unit) were broken down. The surviving rifle was used as a set piece in Alien 3 years later.
In the final act of the film, Ripley uses some heavy tape to fasten a Pulse Rifle to an M240 Flamethrower when she goes into the bowels of the colony to rescue Newt (Carrie Henn) from the alien queen. She also wears a vest with extra ammo and grenades.
The large contraption hangs from a thick sling on Ripley’s shoulder, and she uses the rifle, the grenade launcher, and the flamethrower to battle the queen and destroy her crop of face-hugger eggs while rescuing Newt.
Now a bit about the grenade launcher. While it may seem undersized, we do get a look at the “grenades” and they appear to be about the same size as a 12 gauge shotgun shell, and they also look a little like CO2 cartridges.
We also see that the grenades are multifunctional. They can be used in the launcher, or they can be used by hand. As we see in the air duct scene in the second act, the top can be popped off the grenade revealing a button that will start a delayed fuse when pressed.
We can assume that the grenade rounds are stored in a tubular magazine, as the launcher is built from a pump action shotgun…well, two pump action shotguns, the Remington 870 and SPAS 12.
We get a good close-up of Ripley grabbing a bunch of extra grenades as she’s gearing up to face off against the queen alien and taping her rifle to the flamethrower.
Two Marines in the squad, PFC J. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and Pvt. M. Drake (Mark Rolston) use a heavy machine gun designated in the movie as the M56 Smart Gun (that comes from the pages of “Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual.”
Like all the guns in the movie, there were real guns underneath. The Smart Guns were built from WWII-era German MG42 machine guns with the grip and stock removed. The body-mounting apparatus was famously built from a Cinema Products Model III Steadicam harness with the arm attached on the left side, which was then bolted to the MG42,s rear sight bracket with a custom clamp.
The two rigs in the movie aren’t identical as they had to be modified a bit for the very differently sized actors. Some futuristic embellishments on the Smart Guns were constructed from motorcycle parts, most notably the handlebars from a 1976 Husqvarna Maguar 360 used for the linage to the gun’s actual trigger. The movie gun’s trigger is the motorcycle grip and a brake lever mounted in a clutch perch.
A 1981 Kawasaki KZ750 control panel is used for the front controls, and the foot pegs from a Kawasaki AR-125 were used to decorate the barrel shroud.
The in-movie guns are full auto and rapid fire, with large star-shaped muzzle blasts and an odd sound to the shots that’s almost like they’re going through a suppressor.
The MG42s use blanks in a belt, just like they always do, but the canister of ammo is hidden from view on the inside of the gun. At one point, the Marines are ordered to unload their weapons and we see Vasquez remove a cylindrical module that connects two cables to “clear and lock” her gun. According to supporting materials, this is a DV-9 battery unit that can be disconnected to prevent the gun from firing.
Vasquez and Drake then replace the battery with extras they have on them. It’s unclear what the actual ammunition source for the guns is, but if the Pulse Rifle can hold 100 rounds of caseless ammo in its small magazine, then its conceivable a large amount of ammo could be fed from somewhere on the rig.
Part of the Smart Gun weapon system is an eyepiece worn by both Vasquez and Drake on a headset hardwired to the gun rig that serves as the gun’s targeting system. It’s obviously just a prop, but in the movie, it displayed various filters like night vision or UV modes as well as an actual targeting reticle.
The prop was based on the Beyerdynamic HM 650 headset and the FLIR eyepieces used by US AH-64 Apache helicopter pilots. The scope from a G1 Megatron Transformers toy was used in the prop construction.
Cpl. Hicks’ Shotgun
There is one old-school firearm in the mix, and that’s Cpl. Dwayne Hicks’ (Michael Biehn) custom 12 gauge pump action shotgun.
The shotgun Hicks keeps as a backup gun in a back scabbard on his body armor is built from a hunting variant of the Ithaca 37. The receiver is engraved with a duck hunting scene meaning at some point Hicks came across an old hunting shotgun and chopped it down himself.
The barrel has been cut down nearly flush with the mag tube and on the other end the gun has been modified with an MP40 submachine gun pistol grip, making it look more like an Ithaca 37 Stakeout.
When the Marines are ordered to unload their high-powered caseless ammo weapons because of their proximity to the base’s nuclear reactor, Hicks draws his shotgun and says he likes to keep it for “close encounters.”
This was most likely a little jab at the Spielberg extraterrestrial movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
In a memorable scene, as they’re being chased by the alien horde, Hicks sticks the barrel of the shotgun in an alien’s mouth and yells, “Eat this!” before blowing its head apart. Predictably, the alien’s acid blood destroys the shotgun while burning Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton) and we never see it again.
One of the other weapons in the Space Marine arsenal is the M240 Flamethrower. It’s carried by select members of the squad in addition to their primary weapons.
As you can probably see from the carry handle especially, the flamethrowers were built from parts from M16 rifles with the handguard from M203 grenade launchers. The upper assembly of an M16A1 was used and cut in two parts, the half with the carry handle is facing forward, while the other half with the ejection port is turned backwards.
The prop flamethrowers that actually shot flame were rare in a Hollywood production because they are some of the only movie props to use military-spec liquid-fueled flamethrowers as opposed to the more common and safer gas-powered models usually used on movie sets. You can clearly see they are liquid flamethrowers when Ripley attacks the alien nest.
Ash’s Guns in Evil Dead 2 (1987), Army of Darkness (1992), Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015)
In the sequel to the super-low budget film Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi return and give the hero, Ash, his famous Boomstick. When he grabs the side-by-side double barrel shotgun, which is likely a 1960s era Stevens shotgun, it’s a full-sized hunting gun.
When he prepares his arsenal at the end of the movie, he cuts the barrel down but leaves the stock, and rigs up a back scabbard so he can access the gun easier one handed. See, the evil got into his hand and he had to cut it off…then the hand tried to kill him, but whatever, he’s down a hand but don’t worry…he’s got a chainsaw on the stump. Groovy.
The sawed-off shotgun makes a return in the sequel Army of Darkness which finds Ash, his chainsaw, his boomstick, and his car transported back to medieval times. This time, the double-barrel is a Stoeger IGA 20″ Coach shotgun, even though Ash identifies it as a Remington in the dialog.
Ash kept kicking Deadite butt in the gory TV series Ash vs Evil Dead,. As a credit to continuity, Ash uses the same Boomstick from Army of Darkness, the Stoeger IGA, which he keeps in a hidden compartment in his mobile home.
Guns of Blade (1998), Blade II (2002), and Blade Trinity (2004)
Guns don’t do much against vampires, but what if the vampire has the gun?
In 1998’s comic book adaptation Blade, Wesley Snipes plays the titular character who is half human and half vampire and has pledged his life to wiping out the undead. And he does it with a big ol arsenal of guns firing things fanged-ones don’t like, such as stakes made of solid silver, and hollow bullets full of garlic concentrate.
Blade’s primary sidearms in the first movie are a pair of full-auto pistols in drop-leg holsters. The guns are actually modified MAC-11 machine pistols with a casting of a MAC-10 made and fitted to the front of the gun, and supported by a piece underneath connecting to the bottom of the trigger guard.
Blade uses the MAC-10s throughout the movie and carries them like pistols in thigh holsters. He usually loads them with silver hollowpoints filled with a garlic solution, which does a number on vampires.
One of Blade’s other favorite weapons in this movie, which he uses in the assault on the vampire dance club in the beginning is a modified Benelli M3 Super 90 shotgun. We can assume it fires some kind of specific anit-vamp ammo, but beneath the barrel on either side of the magazine tube are launchers that fire silver stakes, assumedly through some kind of pneumatic device, though there’s no air tank visible on the gun.
We get a look at the armory wall of Whistler’s workshop after the first act. We see a number of pistols with gunlights, laser sights, or scopes mounted on them, a large revolver, the Benelli he uses earlier, and a PSG1 rifle. Blade’s sword is beneath the cloth.
Guns of Underworld (2003)
In 2003’s Underworld, Kate Beckinsale played Selene, a vampire tasked with the duty of hunting her race’s arch nemisis, werewolves. To do this, they use a bunch of guns firing silver bullets, of course. In the first film, Selene sports a pair of Beretta 92FS pistols modified to fire in full auto with barrel weights attached to the front.
Toward the end of the movie, Selene also uses a pair of dual-tone Walther P99 pistols fitted with Laser Devices BA-5 laser sights under the barrel.
An interesting note from imfdb.org, the guns were modified for the movie with extremely light trigger pulls so Beckinsale could fire them rapidly on scene, but of course you can see her pull the trigger for every shot. The sound editors must have thought they were full-auto, as they dubbed submachine gun sounds over the pistols being fired.
Selene also gets her hands on a H&K USP Match pistol in 9mm with a silver match weight attached to test out some new liquid-silver bullets.
Stephen King’s tale come to the big screen of a mother trapped in a car with her son by a rabid St. Bernard is a classic in many ways. And it teaches an important lesson—though the vicious beast was repeatedly beaten with a baseball bat, car doors, etc and even stabbed through the middle, it took a gun to finally put him down and save Dee Wallace.
Donna Trenton (Wallace) is trapped with her son Tad (Danny Pintauro) defenseless in a boiling hot car for most of the movie, but once a sheriff shows up, she thinks she’s saved. But the sheriff doesn’t fare so well against ol’ Cujo.
He’s killed, but not before dropping his Smith & Wesson Model 64 revolver in the dirt for Donna to find later when she finally makes a break for the house. After she thinks Cujo is dead from being stabbed with a broken baseball bat, Donna ultimate shoots the dog when it returns yet again to kill her and her son.
The Mist (2007)
Another one from the master of horror Stephen King, the Frank Darabont adaptation of the author’s short story from the collection Skeleton Crew is chilling and taut, if you can get past the CGI creature effects, which are a little spotty at times, but overall solid. (The black and white version, how Darabont original envisioned the movie, is a lot better.) There’s one revolver that plays a key role through the film, and especially at the gut-wrenching end.
As the townspeople take refuge in the grocery store as a mysterious creature-filled mist covers the area, Amanda Dumfries (Laurie Holden) reveals she has a revolver in her purse, a Colt SF-VI/DS-II, which is a stainless version of the Colt Detective Special. She has two speedloaders in her purse, limiting the group to just 12 shots. Ollie Weeks (Toby Jones) steps up and reveals he was a competition shooter in the ’90s. He makes several expert shots with the revolver, until he is killed in a final bid to escape.
David Drayton (Thomas Jane) takes the gun, with only four rounds left in the cylinder, and heads off into the mist with a carload of survivors. The car runs out of gas and the group is stuck in the mist with vicious creatures, large and small, gathering ever closer to the car. Deciding they don’t want to be killed by these things, they ask David to shoot them before they can be killed.
David kills the two survivors in the back seat before shooting Amanda and his young son off screen.
He then stumbles from the car, trying in vain to put a bullet through his own head, though the gun is empty. He then waits to be torn apart…but instead sees an Army tank come down the road through the mist…which begins to lift. David then proceeds to scream into the sky until the credits.
This movie gets a lot of crap, especially for its CG, which doesn’t look very great in the final version. Part of the reason for this is that the movie was originally inteded to be released in black and white, but the studio shied away from that decision in post production. However, you can get the B&W version on DVD or Blu Ray, and it not only enhanced the atmosphere of the entire movie, but the CG texturing looks damn near great without color. If you haven’t seen it in B&W, you really should.
The Monster Squad (1987)
Those who weren’t kids at the time may have missed Fred Dekker’s extremely 1980s homage to the great Universal Studios horror movie monsters, but that’s no reason not to check it out this spooky season. It’s a classic group of kids on a mission story…kinda like Goonies but with Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Mummy instead of pirates and gangsters.
Despite all their planning and nonsense with opening a portal to limbo to suck up all the monsters, the kids do a pretty fine job of dispatching the bad guys themselves once they get their hands on some weapons.
Rudy (Ryan Lambert) on his own uses a compound bow to take out the Mummy (he attaches the end of his bandages to an arrow that he fires from a moving car into a tree…and the Mummy unwraps until he’s just a skull on the road. Why not? “See ya later, band-aid breath!”) and then uses it again later to kill Dracula’s brides (by shooting sharpened stakes from it instead of arrows).
When the Wolfman, who pulls himself together after being blown up by some dynamite, comes at him, Rudy picks up a fallen police officer’s Smith & Wesson Model 15 revolver, loads one of the silver bullets he made earlier in shop class (good thing it was a .38), and “Bang,” the Wolfman is gone. “See? Only one way to kill a werewolf.”
The Creature is the last monster left, other than Dracula who is busy fighting Frankenstein’s monster, who turns out to be a pretty cool dude. While The Creature is busy crushing cops’ skulls in the street, Horace (Brent Chalem) grabs a Smith & Wesson 3000 shotgun from a fallen cop and takes care of the Gillman with a blast to the heart.
Happy Halloween and pleasant dreams!